The Hon. PENNY SHARPE: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Health. What is the latest information on the donation and supply of blood in New South Wales?
The Hon. JOHN HATZISTERGOS: Honourable members might have heard calls over the last 24 hours by the Australian Red Cross blood service urging people to donate blood as supplies had the potential to run out nationally in less than 36 hours. Consequently, at lunchtime yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and I made our way to the Clarence Street headquarters of the Australian Red Cross blood service and gave blood. It is important that others follow this lead. There is no substitute for blood. People with cancer, heart disease, kidney and bowel disease, and accident victims need to be able to access blood in order to survive.
Recipients of blood donations also include women with pregnancy complications, premature babies born with immune deficiency disorders, patients undergoing routine surgery and those battling long-term illnesses who require frequent blood products. I am advised that 15 per cent of donated blood helps people with heart disease, another 15 per cent goes to people with stomach and bowel disease, and 12 per cent of all blood donated goes to trauma and accident victims. People requiring chemotherapy are particularly at risk unless donors come forward urgently simply because 30 per cent of all blood donations go to people with cancer.
Blood donation is one of the simplest ways to give something back to the community. I am told that every donation can save up to three lives. While one in three people will need blood at some time in his or her life, only one in 30 actually gives it. Yesterday I was impressed by the number of people who lined up to give blood. I congratulate the people of New South Wales who heeded the call from the Red Cross and who contacted the service in great numbers to offer to give blood. However, I am advised that stocks are still low and more donations are needed in New South Wales.
I urge employers to allow staff time off to give blood. It only takes an hour. Perhaps they could even follow Ron Delezio's lead. He gave his employees an additional day's leave if they gave blood at least three times a year. I commend organisations such as the Australian Stock Exchange and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which encourage their employees to give blood during work time.
The Red Cross needs 21,000 donations each week to maintain an adequate blood supply. That is a thousand more donations a week than last year. I am advised that blood has a use-by date, in some cases as short as five days after donation, and that is why there is a constant need for new supply. I urge honourable members to do as I did and donate blood. They should contact the Red Cross blood service and make arrangements for a donation and also encourage others in the community to do likewise.