• The rise in the popularity of tattoos has resulted in less people registering to give blood. (Foter)Source: Foter
Thousands of people are having to put off giving blood because they have recently been tattooed, the Red Cross says.
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

19 Aug 2016 - 9:12 AM  UPDATED 19 Aug 2016 - 9:12 AM

The increase in the number of people getting tattoos has had a negative impact on blood donations, with thousands of potential donors forced on to a wait list for health reasons, says the Red Cross.

People who get a tattoo are ineligible to give blood for six months because of the potential risk of infection.  

Shaun Inguanzo from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service says since 2010 they have seen the number of potential blood donors being deferred because they have recently been tattooed rise from 11,000 a year to 15,000 a year. 

"What we're starting to see is an increase in the popularity of tattoos, and the reason we have deferrals in place is because no test, regardless of how sophisticated it is, can pick up that very early stage of infection," Mr Inguanzo tells SBS.

Many blood donors who have body art organise their donations around their tattoo appointments. 

"And as blood donation is all about saving lives we need to make sure we have a system in place to make sure we screen only eligible donors."

Mr Inguanzo says many blood donors who have body art organise their donations around their tattoo appointments. 

"If you love getting inked, what you can do is just make sure, 'ok well it's been six months and I'm about to get another tattoo, I might go and give blood', and we have a lot of people with tattoos who do that," he says.

"And if you don't mind getting a needle for artwork on your skin, I can tell you that all it is with blood donation is a small pinch when the needle goes in, and that's it, you don't even know it's there." 

The most common reason Australian blood donors are deferred is because of overseas travel to places affected by Malaria, which accounts for around 130,000 deferrals every year.

There are 9 million people eligible to give blood in Australia, but only around 500,000 people actively do so.

People who have recently had a cold or the flu will also be unable to give blood for a period of time.

"We're in peak cold and flu season, and the deferral on that is seven days from when you last felt fit and healthy," Mr Inguanzo says.

"It's just an extra layer of security to ensure that the blood we take from you can be used and go on and save lives and not potentially harm them."

There are 9 million people eligible to give blood in Australia, but only around 500,000 people actively do so.

In order to reach its target of 100,000 new donors this financial year, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is part of the global #MissingType campaign appealing to people who have been impacted by deferrals who might now be able to pledge to donate.

Throughout the campaign the letters of the main blood groups - A, B and I - will disappear from everyday brands to illustrate how important these letters/blood types are.