Australians flock to donate blood for bushfire victims

February 11th, 2009 - 1:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Canberra, Feb 11 (Xinhua) Australians are rolling up their sleeves to donate blood to help victims of the worst bushfire in the country.The Red Cross Blood Service said centres across Australia had been overwhelmed, with an “unprecedented” 20,000 people registering as donors since news of the crisis broke Sunday, the Australian Associated Press reported Wednesday.

“We normally get 1,500 a month … this is sensational, fantastic, and we’re a little bit overwhelmed,” the service’s national media manager Kathy Bowlen said.

“We can’t physically do 10,000 people a day, so we’re registering people so that we can call them, make appointments, and do it all in the regular careful way that we do,” said Bowlen.

She said it could take weeks, or longer, to get through the list and asked intending donors to be patient.

Despite the influx this week, the nation’s supply of certain vital blood stocks stands at just four days. Some of the blood products have a shelf life of just five days meaning they always run close to critical levels.

The bushfire had caused 181 deaths, and officials were fearing that the death toll could surpass 200. It left hundreds of people homeless, affecting an area of more than 3,000 square km. Entire towns were wiped off the map over the weekend.

Mackay’s Blood Service says it has been overwhelmed by the number of people wanting donate to help those injured in Victoria’ s bushfire disaster, according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

There are no appointments available for the rest of this week, but liaison officer Nicky Hansen said while stocks are healthy at the moment, it is important that donations remain strong in the coming months.

She says donating blood is a simple way that people can do something significant to help those who have been affected by the bushfires.

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