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Cancer patients at risk of blood shortage

AAP logoAAP 19/12/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Cancer patients are at the greatest risk of a "worrying drop" in blood donor numbers over the festive season as millions of Australians use their spare time for Christmas shopping.

Nearly 5,000 blood donations are needed between Christmas and New Year in order to prevent a shortage of blood products vital to treating cancer patients, says the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service launched its national Christmas 'Blood Blitz' on Tuesday to curb any holiday shortage.

Cancer patients are the biggest users of donated blood and rely on platelets to make it through chemotherapy.

"The problem is platelets cannot be stock-piled for longer than a few days, so we need a constant, fresh supply as anything collected by Christmas Day will have been used by early next week," said Red Cross spokesperson Shaun Inguanzo.

Mr Inguanzo says just one hour spent donating blood could help to save or improve three lives and ensure the sick don't miss out on quality time with their families.

"Thousands of Australian patients will need blood this Christmas and New Year in order to spend precious moments with friends and family," he said.

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