A challenge for all

DUO: Australian Red Cross Blood Service donor centre manager Michelle Borain with former Ballarat mayor John Barnes on Saturday afternoon.
DUO: Australian Red Cross Blood Service donor centre manager Michelle Borain with former Ballarat mayor John Barnes on Saturday afternoon.

Former Ballarat mayor John Barnes has called on all residents to sign up and become blood donors.

Mr Barnes, who was at a party the Red Cross threw as a nod to long-term donors on Saturday, said it was great way to contribute to the community.

“It’s easy to do and it’s a good contribution just about anyone can make,” he said.

“It can make an enormous difference to people.

“It really only takes a little bit of time each fortnight, and I challenge everybody to get involved.”

Up to 70 long-term donors and their families flocked to the Mercure Convention Centre on Saturday afternoon for the function, which organisers said was a way for the Red Cross to say thanks.

Mr Barnes first donated when he was 18 and has since given blood more than 260 times.

Red Cross spokesman Colin Littlejohn was rapt with how the day went and said it was a fitting note to end National Blood Donor Week on.

“It’s a way of us saying thank you to our donors, and just giving something back to them,” he said.

“Because they’re valuable, they give their time to us.”

It comes just weeks after Ballarat’s Red Cross Blood Service revealed it had a critical shortage of O-Negative and O-Positive blood types with just two days’ supply around the nation.

Donor numbers typically dip during winter months as cold and flu symptoms wipe out up to 1000 donors a day.

“These two blood types are essential: O-Negative is the universal type given to patients in emergency situations,” Mr Littlejohn said.

“And O Positive is the type that 39 percent of Australians have – and therefore the most type needed – should they require a blood transfusion.

Student Joshua Pyalanda answered the call last month and rolled up his sleeve to donate plasma as he has done many times before.

”I started donating blood last year, then they asked about plasma which is more needed for my blood type. I just thought it was a pretty easy and good thing to do and something that could really help another person,” he said.

Each blood donation potentially saves three lives.

“My brother used to donate blood really regularly and he asked me if I had ever done it and I hadn’t, so we just went and did it,” Mr Pyalanda said.

Some potential donors are put off because of a fear of needles, but Mr Pyalanda assured them it looked worse that it really was. “It’s just a little sting when they put the needle in, and a tiny sting when they take it out. Apart from that it doesn’t hurt and it’s not as bad as it looks.”

To become a donor, head to donateblood.com.au.