Roll up your sleeves for blood cancer

Australians are being challenged to roll up their sleeves for the work of donating blood during National Blood Donor Week.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch says there needs to be more regular donors to support blood cancer patients. ‘It takes 18 people donating blood monthly to treat just one person living with blood cancer,’ he says. ‘More than 100,000 Australians are currently affected by blood cancer, including people in your local community, and many of these people require regular donated blood products to manage their cancer.’

Mr Petch says that what many people don’t realise is the sheer volume of blood needed to support blood cancer patients.

‘More than a third of all blood donations collected by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service go towards supporting cancer patients and people living with blood diseases – and with good reason.

‘One 470ml blood donation unit includes red cells, plasma and platelets. On average, one acute leukaemia patient will need nine units – or 2.25 litres – of red blood cells each month, or just over 1 litre (36 units) of platelets each month during treatment.

Petch says that this means for every blood cancer patient in our community, we need 18 Australians to roll up their sleeves every month – not just once, but for every month of that person’s treatment time, which can be anything from eight months on average through to a number of years.

With 35 people every day diagnosed with a blood cancer in Australia and this number expected to increase to close to 50 people per day by 2025, we know more Australians will become critically reliant on blood products into the future.

‘The need for blood products to support blood cancer patients doesn’t stop, so neither should blood donations, and that is why we are calling on more Australians to make blood donation part of a regular routine rather than a once-off exercise,’ he said.

National Blood Donor Week runs from June 9 to 15. You can find out more about how you can support people living with blood cancer in your community at or to join the fight against blood cancer by making a blood donation, visit

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