Dengue puts hold on blood donations
STUDENTS involved in a donation challenge will have to wait until April to roll up their sleeves to give blood, with the Cairns dengue outbreak causing a freeze on whole blood donations in the region.
It comes as four new dengue cases broke out in Port Douglas and Cairns yesterday, bringing the total to 81.
Blood Service community relations officer Sandy Holmes said despite the halt, about 130 plasma donations were needed at the clinic each week to make blood products against disease and help trauma or transplant patients.
"With dengue fever present, we can only collect plasma donations, and plasma donations can only be made by males over 18 years old and females over 20 years old," she said.
"School group donations have been postponed until Term 2 as we are hoping that the dengue zone will be lifted by early April."
The annual Schools Blood Challenge is calling for 28,500 youth donors across Queensland in a bid to drive a new generation of donors.
About 10 Far North schools are involved and eight Year 11 and 12 students from St Andrew's Catholic College, St Mary's College, Trinity Bay State High School and St Monica's College toured the Red Cross Blood Service centre this week.
St Monica's College student Taylah Wedrat, 16, is aiming to inspire a team of blood-givers at her school.
"I'm going to be getting as many people involved as I can," she said.
"I'm looking forward to encouraging people to take part in blood donations and also informing them about giving blood and why it is so important."
St Andrew's Catholic College program co-ordinator Melissa Milton said the initiative also created awareness to the wider school community.
"The Schools Blood Challenge promotes a positive peer environment, with students being able to give blood with their classmates and experience this extraordinary process together," she said.
For more information, visit www.donateblood.com.au or phone 13 14 95.
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Sleeves up: Cairns Red Cross Youth Ambassadors Natalie Meiklejohn, Madi Clark, Taylor Wedrat and Sasha Osterburg at the blood bank on Sheridan St. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS