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It's a bloody travesty that we can't donate here

The hand of a blood donor squeezing a medical rubber ball
The hand of a blood donor squeezing a medical rubber ball roibu

IN THE wake of Holly Butcher's heartfelt letter posted on social media, Grafton residents eagerly wanting to donate blood face a major hurdle.

In her letter, which she wrote before she passed away from Ewing's sarcoma, Holly urged everyone to donate blood regularly.

"Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year - a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend here on earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life," she wrote.

The Red Cross Blood Service reported that one in three Australian's will need blood products in their lifetime, however only one in 30 donate per year.

The sad reality is the closest mobile blood vans and blood banks to Grafton are more than 60km away, in Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Casino.

In mid-2015, the Red Cross Blood Service was cut from Grafton in their phase out of the regional demountable services.

The sad reality is that the closest blood bank to Grafton is over 60 kilometres away, in the neighbouring towns of Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Casino.

Red Cross Blood Service spokesperson Jemma Falkenmire said this was because of the increased demand for the medications made out of plasma, which couldn't be collected at the Grafton demountable service.

"The specialised collection process is different to traditional red cell collections," Mrs Falkenmire said.

"Some of the medications made from plasma, including ones for cancer patients, might take 190 donations to make it. The demand is large, and it continues to grow and be our focus. Patients that need plasma include cancer, trauma, immune deficiencies, heart disease."

Demountable services were established in the 1960s as a way to collect more red blood from surrounding towns.

"All demountable resources were re-allocated to our donor centres, who have the flexibility of collecting all donation types."

Overall demand for traditional red cell collection continues to decline due to improvements in surgical techniques, with the exception of O negative blood types.

"Of course we will still need red cells, particularly around public holiday periods, and you'll see us call out during winter and Christmas because of the short shelf life of platelets."

With the closest donor mobiles located in Newcastle and Queensland, due to the hours of travel they could not ensure enough time to collect blood when they arrive.

Miss Falkenmire understands it is difficult for some people to give blood if they live a long distance from a donor centre.

"We are very grateful to those who do donate, and it is unfortunate we can't be located in every town.

"Our priority is to meet the needs of patients in the area, and they have access to one of the most stable and safe blood supplies in the world."

Red Cross Blood Service Queensland held six days of mobile blood services in Yamba last year, and this year will increase to 16. As the Yamba services are demountable they can only have donations of whole blood.

These days were established by the the Red Cross Blood Service Queensland.

The lower Clarence Red Cross Club secretary Maureen Cunningham said bookings were essential for the continuation of blood services in Yamba.

"If we drop off our days, we will get less dates next year. We need people to look if they can come in and pre-book, as bookings get filled up quite quickly," Mrs Cunningham said.

The next donation days are on Monday, January 19 at 2pm to 6.30pm and Tuesday the January 30 at 10am to 2pm. These are already fully booked.

The next available dates are Monday, March 26 and 27. You can book online at www.donateblood.com.au.

Holly Butcher's funeral is today at T J Ford Pavillion at Grafton Showground, Prince Street at 1pm.

Topics:  blood donation red cross



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