Australian Red Cross Lifeblood changes name, needs donations as fires rage

As fires rage in New South Wales and Queensland, there is one small way south-west Victorians can help from the comfort of their community.

The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, formerly known as Australian Red Cross Blood Service, has been forced to close its donor centres at Taree, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Byron Bay and are looking to the rest of the country to help fill the gaps and ensure blood supplies stay strong.

Mortlake's Acting Sergeant Paul McLean knows how important donations can be for those who need them most after he began donating blood 20 years.

"I started donating blood every three months because it was the right thing to do," he said.

"I started off donating blood because it's what I thought everyone needed the most. But after talking to the nurses, they said donating plasma was more beneficial so I started doing that.

REGULAR DONOR: Paul McLean donates plasma fortnightly at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood service in Warrnambool.

REGULAR DONOR: Paul McLean donates plasma fortnightly at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood service in Warrnambool.

"Seven years ago my mum was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia which is terminal.

"Imagine having the worst flu-like symptoms and then after a 30-minute blood transfusion you were completely recharged.

"She survive an extra 12-18 months having transfusions once or twice a week."

New South Wales and Queensland make up over half of the nation's blood supplies and Lifeblood spokesperson Helen Walsh said now is a critical time to make a donation.

"Given the unpredictability of the fires, the reality is we're unlikely to immediately know the full impact on donations until later in the week," Ms Walsh said.

"We do know we collect around 15 per cent of blood supplies for New South Wales in the areas where we have had to close our centres.

"With blood being a critical resource, we simply cannot afford to take a wait and watch approach and are calling for donors to please roll up their sleeve, now, in order to bolster the nation's blood stocks."

GIVING: Steve Rogers made his 266th donation with plasma at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood in Warrnambool. Picture: Anthony Brady

GIVING: Steve Rogers made his 266th donation with plasma at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood in Warrnambool. Picture: Anthony Brady

Acting Sergeant McLean said he had educated himself on the blood services and knew his donations were used for a wide range of medical needs including transfusions, cancer and burns victims.

"This critical time of Christmas and holidays mean everyone's going away and there's a massive shortage of blood and plasma," he said.

"Donating it is one of the easiest things you can do to help someone else who's in dire need.

"Aside from a small pain from the needle going in, you just sit there, enjoy the company of the lovely nurses and get a feed at the end.

"It's one of the most fulfilling things I do."

From 15 November, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service changed its name to Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

NEW LOOK: Australian Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson Colin Littlejohn is hoping more people will donate blood and plasma. Picture: Anthony Brady

NEW LOOK: Australian Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson Colin Littlejohn is hoping more people will donate blood and plasma. Picture: Anthony Brady

Lifeblood spokesman Colin Littlejohn said it marked the next exciting chapter for the organisation.

"For 90 years we have been the lifeblood of Australia thanks to our amazing donors, our volunteers and staff," he said.

"Blood is at the core of what we do, but we are now so much more than blood at centres around the country.

"The name Lifeblood reflects the role we play in the Australian community now and into the future, while also celebrating our selfless donors who are the lifeblood of Australia."

Call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au to find your nearest donor centre and book your appointment.