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More than 460,000 Australians donated blood

By Eliza Buglar | 6 Jun 2019
4 min read

That’s according to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s annual report, which showed that a total of 460,817 people – including more than 89,000 new donors – donated to the Service during the 2017-18 financial year.1

Altogether, there were more than 1.3 million individual donations of blood and plasma made in 2017-18.

Despite this commendable effort, more donations are always needed. According to the Blood Service, as many as one in three Australians will need blood or blood products at some point in their life, yet only one in every 30 donate blood each year.2

So, how can you help?

We’ve answered a couple of questions you might have about donating blood in Australia.

Can I donate blood?

First of all, you’ll need to be eligible to donate blood in Australia. If you’re a healthy 18-70-year-old, and you weigh more than 50kg, you may be eligible to donate blood.2

However, some conditions could make you ineligible, either temporarily or permanently. For instance, you may be temporarily ineligible for donating if:

  • you’re on certain medications and antibiotics;
  • you’ve recently had surgery or dental treatment;
  • you’ve recently travelled; and/or
  • you’re feeling unwell.

Furthermore, you may find that you won’t be allowed to donate blood in Australia if you’ve:

  • ever had a serious heart condition or blood disorder/disease;
  • injected or been injected with drugs (that haven’t been prescribed by a medical professional) within the last five years; or
  • been pregnant or given birth recently.

Please note that the above isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list. You can find the full criteria for eligibility on the Australian Red Cross Blood Service website, where you can also complete the eligibility quiz to determine if you can donate blood in Australia.

Woman donating blood

What can I donate?

You can actually donate more than just blood. As well as whole blood (which is blood just taken straight from the donor without anything removed), you can also donate plasma and platelets through the Blood Service’s donation centres.3

If you’d prefer to donate whole blood, your donation will usually be separated by the Blood Service’s labs into red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Each of these blood products has different uses.

Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen around the body and are transfused to people with cancer, blood diseases and anaemia as well as surgery, trauma and childbirth patients.4

Plasma, which is mostly water, carries your blood cells around your body.4 Plasma transfusions can be used for several diseases affecting the blood, stomach, heart and kidney.3 It can also be used for cancer treatment, surgeries, childbirth, blood loss and burns.

Platelets play an essential role in blood clotting and repairing tissue.4 Patients who require a platelet transfusion could be undergoing chemotherapy, bleeding, having a bone marrow transplant, or taking certain medications that inhibit platelet function.

For those who cannot donate blood in Australia, there are many other ways you can help.5 For one, you could be a Red Cross financial donor, with your donation helping to support programs and services for vulnerable people around the world.

If you can’t donate blood, you may still be eligible to donate bone marrow instead. You can also register as an organ donor, and potentially help one of the 1,400 Australians currently waiting for a transplant.6

Even something as simple as sharing the Australian Red Cross on social media can help!

Why should I donate blood?

Just one blood donation can save the lives of up to three people.2 Imagine how many you could save by donating more than once!

Donating blood is also free, only takes around an hour to do and you get a free snack afterwards!7

Make sure you’re covered if you ever need a donation

As we mentioned before, one in three Australians will need to receive blood or other blood product in their lifetime. That one could be you or a member of your family.

But did you know that in-hospital treatment of blood and related conditions (like blood clotting disorders or bone marrow transplants) are actually covered by health insurance?

Check if your policy covers you and your family for treatment of blood conditions by reading through our explanation of the new, four-tiered health insurance categories.

[1] Australian Red Cross Blood Service – Annual Report: 2017-18. Sourced May 2019.
[2] Australian Red Cross Blood Service – General blood statistics. Sourced May 2019.
[3] Australian Red Cross Blood Service – Learn: Types of donation. Sourced May 2019.
[4] National Blood Authority – Fresh blood products. Sourced May 2019.
|[5] Australian Red Cross Blood Service – Eligibility: Other ways to help. Sourced May 2019.
[6] Australian Government: Organ and Tissue Authority – Facts and Statistics. Published on Sourced May 2019.
[7] Australian Red Cross Blood Service – Learn: How donation works. Sourced May 2019.

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Written by Eliza Buglar

Because she likes reading, as well as watching endless amounts of films, Eliza majored in Creative Writing and Film and Television at QUT. She also likes music, but didn’t study that. When she’s not using her writing major at Compare the Market, you can catch her utilising that film major at every Marvel and Star Wars film that comes into cinema.

Read more from Eliza