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'Blood drive' saves lives

Friday May 18, 2007

Drive for Charity Day, Tuesday 22 May

Get where you need to go and save lives in Indonesia at the same time by using toll roads on Drive for Charity day, Tuesday 22 May.

Encouraging people to donate blood in a big city can be a challenge at the best of times, so in the Indonesian province of Aceh - where the majority of four million people are spread across 55,000 square kilometres - blood service staff have an even bigger job recruiting donors.

Making a world of difference to the collection of safe blood from people in remote townships are three mobile blood units donated to Aceh province.

'Giving blood gives life, but the distances are great in Aceh and people who live in remote regions can't travel to the permanent blood service units. The Blood Mobiles save lives,' says Karen Medica, Blood Service Project Manager for Australian Red Cross in Aceh.

The vehicles have been fitted out so staff can travel through Aceh collecting blood to help save the lives of patients at more than a dozen hospitals.

Five vehicles were dispatched to Indonesia, three to Aceh, through funds raised by Drive for Charity, a project that has given a whole new meaning to the term 'blood drive'. On 22 May 2007, Drive for Charity collects tolls from motorways in Sydney and donates the proceeds to seven charities and not-for-profit organisations, including Australian Red Cross. This is the final of three years of Red Cross involvement in the program.

The mobile blood units are part of a bigger plan in Aceh supported by Australian Red Cross: to rebuild the blood service after the 2004 tsunami wiped out the region's health system.

Each Blood Mobile is a self-contained, safe on-board clinic that enables specially trained, professional staff the chance to give personalised service to every blood donor. Vehicle maintenance training is also provided, so the teams can make repairs while they're on the road.

Willing donors and a few parking spots are all that's required to help save the lives of many people by increasing the volume of safe blood needed desperately by hospitals for operations, to treat illness and to replace blood lost by women during child birth.