The Australian Red Cross Blood Service has made an urgent appeal for people with O-negative blood to make a donation.
As the worst flu season on record saw supplies drop to critical levels, blood banks on the east coast were left with only a day’s worth of the rare blood type.
“Nationally about 1,000 appointments are normally cancelled each day but over this cold and flu season it has spiked to 3,000,” The service’s Jennifer Campbell Case told the ABC.
“That’s unprecedented for us.”
While more than 500 Australians have made appointments in the last 24 hours, a further 2,500 O-negative donors are needed over the next fortnight to meet patient need across the country.
O-negative blood is always in demand as it is universal, meaning it can be given to patients regardless of their blood type in emergency situations.
While only 9 percent of the donor population is O-negative, the blood type accounts for 15 percent of all hospital demand.
“With one in three of us needing donated blood in our lifetime, the life you save could be that of a friend of family member,” Blood Service spokesperson Shaun Inguanzo said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.
This year, NSW Health has recorded as many as 60,000 flu cases, almost twice the number diagnosed in 2016.
Call 13 14 96 to make an appointment or visit donateblood.com.au.