Blood donors turned away

BUS BUNGLE: Wagga donor centre manager Neil Wright and Griffith's Syliva Musse on the steps of the mobile blood bank.
BUS BUNGLE: Wagga donor centre manager Neil Wright and Griffith's Syliva Musse on the steps of the mobile blood bank.

THE Red Cross Blood Service bungled the beginning of its much maligned bus service, turning away donors in droves when the sole generator broke on Thursday morning.

The mobile donor unit rolled in following a snap announcement in April to close the long-serving permanent facility based at the Griffith Base Hospital, sparking widespread community outrage including a protest rally attracting about 500 locals and a petition with roughly 3150 signatures.

Red Cross Blood Service communications manager Jemma Falkenmire, who was on the ground in Griffith, blamed Murphy's Law for the power failure and said the problem was unlikely to reoccur.

"This bus will come to Griffith on a monthly basis while the new bus is in Queensland being fitted out with plasma machines and then we will be here every two weeks," Ms Falkenmire said.

"We had to cancel about 80 appointments today because of the generator but we've shown about a dozen people through and they didn't realise how big it would be, although of course some people were disappointed.

"Normally we'd run off mains power so this issue shouldn't happen again, it's just been really unlucky."

Ms Falkenmire said the Red Cross Blood Service board of directors endeavoured to formally reply to the petition it received three weeks ago "very soon".

The new bus set to take over in September will be the first mobile donor unit in NSW to be equipped to handle plasma donations.

A Griffith donor who has led the campaign against the blood bank closure, Brian Sainty, said the funeral of a prominent resident on Friday showed how insufficient the alternative was.

"Unfortunately there was a funeral on Friday for a well-known local, so donors had to cancel and to make matters worse next month is nearly fully booked, so many of them will have to wait two months to donate again," Mr Sainty said.

"Currently they're coming for two working days every month and will increase that to two working days every two weeks, but the permanent facility was doing 20 days in a month.

"But it's the inflexibility that will mean they won't get the numbers they were expecting and I'm worried they'll say 'see, we told you Griffith numbers were going down' and cut back the service even further.

"We're still waiting on a formal response from the board but if it's a fait acompli and nothing is going to change, I only hope the public supports the friendly staff, who have been very sympathetic to our plight."


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