Shepparton people are being called on to roll up their sleeves and donate blood this month as winter illnesses sideline regular donors.JENNA BISHOP May 13, 2014 5:12am
Generosity needed: Shepparton Blood Donor Centre donor service nurse Marg Jones is encouraging people to donate blood in May.
The call for more donors comes as a national spike in flu cases causes an increase in the number of donors cancelling or rescheduling appointments to donate blood.
The Shepparton office needs to fill 225 vacant appointments in May to meet demand for blood donation.
Depending on the number of donors each month, up to 188 litres of blood is collected at the Shepparton centre each month.
Thirty-five donors are needed to fill vacant appointments this week, 52 are needed the following week, while in the third week 68 appointments are vacant and 70 still need to be filled in the final week of the month.
Health Department data shows a 60 per cent increase in influenza cases so far this year compared to the same period last year.
The figures are in line with Blood Service national call centre data showing up to 1000 appointments a week are being cancelled or rescheduled because of donors having flu or flu-like symptoms — compared to just 100 a week in January.
Blood Service spokeswoman Erin Lagoudakis said the early flu cases could have a worrying impact on blood supplies approaching winter, when influenza cases were expected to increase.
‘‘Our biggest concern is that flu season hasn’t even peaked, and so it will be difficult to attract new donors if we leave it too late,’’ she said.
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