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Sri Lankan community members roll up their sleeves to donate blood

By Madi Chwasta

Shepparton's Sri Lankan association has encouraged its members to donate blood, with the hope of motivating others in the community to roll up their sleeves for the cause.

Sri Lankan Association of Goulburn Valley members donated blood at the Shepparton Donor Centre on Saturday, and president Jay Premarathna said others in the Sri Lankan community would follow suit in the coming weeks.

“We want to encourage others to donate blood — to help others and to also get engaged with the community,” he said.

“It's our way to show goodwill to everyone else.”

Mr Premarathna said the process of donating blood was different in Sri Lanka, where mobile clinics would travel into villages to encourage donations.

“We don’t have that set-up here in Australia, so I want to show the community the way to do it,” he said.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson Louise Rowe said blood donations were needed now more than ever — for patients with and without COVID-19.

“Lifeblood needs to collect 31,000 donations a week across Australia so patients will continue to receive the blood they need in times of trauma, major surgery, cancer treatment, pregnancy and a host of other situations that continue to happen, despite the pandemic,” she said.

“Additionally, Lifeblood is collecting convalescent plasma in a bid to help the fight against COVID-19.

“Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies, and once someone has recovered from COVID-19, the virus antibodies stay in their plasma.

“Convalescent plasma donations from someone who has recovered from COVID-19 may help boost the immunity of patients still battling the disease.”

Ms Rowe said donating blood was an essential reason to leave the home under stage three restrictions, and extra precautions were in place to ensure donor centres were COVID-19 safe.

“The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria has confirmed blood and plasma donation is an appropriate reason for travel,” she said.

“And Lifeblood donor centres are safe to visit, with strict social distancing, cleaning and donor eligibility measures in place.

“Only healthy people are eligible to give blood and we have introduced even more stringent wellness checks prior to appointments, including temperature checking.

“In compliance with government directives, all donors and donor centre staff in Victoria are required to wear masks.”

● To make an appointment at the Shepparton Donor Centre to donate blood or plasma, call 131 495, visit lifeblood.com.au or download the DonateBlood app.