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- Why donate blood
- Who can give
- Am I eligible to donate blood?
- When can I donate next?
- Donating after travelling
- Donating as a group
- How else can I help?
- FAQs - who can give
- I'm ready to donate
- About blood
- Contact Us
- Australia has one of the safest blood supply systems in the world.
- You can donate whole blood every 12 weeks.
- O negative blood is universal and can be given to anyone.
- Plasma and platelet donations can be made every 2 weeks.
- Every whole blood donation can save 3 lives.
- 1 in 3 people will need blood. Only 1 in 30 gives blood.
- Australia needs over 27,000 blood donations every week.
- 470mL of blood is collected when you give whole blood.
- Within 24-48 hours of giving blood, your blood volume is completely restored.
- Giving blood only takes about an hour.
- Plasma donations can be used to make 18 different products.
- Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days.
- 34% of donated blood goes towards helping cancer patients.
- You can start giving blood at 16.
- The blood service has been collecting blood for over 80 years.
- You can donate double platelets – helping twice as many people.
- Platelets have a shelf life of only 5 days.
Thank you for taking the generous step in considering becoming a blood donor. As you can imagine donating blood is a critical service and as such needs to be conducted under strict and rigorous rules to ensure the safety of our donors and the blood supply. This results in there being occasions when blood donations are offered but must be declined by the Blood Service: whatever the result is from your offer, thank you.
These guidelines are subject to regular updates so please check periodically, or if your circumstances change.
Take our quick eligibility quiz or call 13 14 95 and ask to speak with one of our medical officers.
Why donate blood
Blood is vital to life and for many people blood donors are their lifeline. Currently only 1in 30 people give blood, but 1in 3 people will need blood in their lifetime.
Modern processing techniques mean that a single blood donation, when separated into its components, can help at least 3 different patients and contribute to making up to 22 different products (including potentially life-saving immunisations for chicken pox, hepatitis B and tetanus).
Every week Australia needs over 27,000 blood donations.
Long weekends put a strain on the nation’s blood supply. There are fewer days to collect the more than 27,000 blood donations needed every week to treat people in need and there can be an increase in demand for blood and blood products during holiday periods.
Also, many people are away on vacation over public holidays and are unable to donate.
To help boost blood supplies over public holidays please call 13 95 96 or make an appointment online.
Currently there are just under 504,000 voluntary unpaid donors in Australia.
In 2013 the Blood Service collected 1.32 million lifesaving blood donations.
Australian Red Cross Blood Service is a national not-for-profit organisation that forms part of Australian Red Cross. We are supported by the governments of Australia and are responsible for providing the Australian community with safe, high quality blood and blood products, and organ and bone marrow services for transplantation. We do this with the support of more than half a million voluntary blood donors.
The Blood Service is active in many areas of the health industry. These include vital services related to bone marrow, organ and tissue donation, tissue typing for transplantations, research into blood and blood products, donor and product safety and blood transfusion.
Who can give
Most people are able to give blood if they:
- are fit, healthy and not suffering from a cold, flu or other illness at the time of donation or in the previous 7 days
- weigh more than 45kg
- have plenty of liquid the day before donation and 3 glasses of water/juice in the 3 hours before donating
- eat something in the 3 hours before donating
- bring ID. Please bring at least one form of photo identification.
Additional eligibility criteria apply – see the full list of FAQs for details.
Every time a person gives blood they must meet donor eligibility criteria designed to safeguard the health of both the donor and the recipient. The Blood Service regularly reviews the donor guidelines to ensure they continue to meet international quality assurance standards.
Unfortunately, you can never give blood if:
- You are HIV positive
- You have hepatitis B
- You have or have had hepatitis C
- You have ever injected yourself or been injected with drugs not prescribed by a doctor or dentist (even if this was only once)
You will not be able to give blood if, in the past 12 months, you have/or had:
- Oral or anal sex with another man, even ‘safer sex’ using a condom (if you are a man)
- Sex with a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man (if you are a woman)
- Sex with a partner who has HIV or hepatitis C
- Sex with a partner who has hepatitis B, unless you have been vaccinated and/or are immune on our testing
- Sex with a partner who has ever injected themselves with drugs not prescribed by a doctor or dentist
- Sex with a male or female sex worker
- A blood transfusion, excluding transfusions of your own blood
- Hepatitis or been in close contact with someone with hepatitis
- Been in prison
- Sex with anyone who lives in, or has come from, a country considered to have a high rate of HIV infection.
There are plenty of other ways you can help us:
- Encourage your family and friends to give blood. You could even become a youth ambassador or a Club Red coordinator.
- As part of the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, you can support Red Cross in many ways- as a financial donor, volunteer, member or fundraiser. Find out more about how you can get involved.
- Following us on Facebook and Twitter or by posting an update to your profile.
- And, don’t forget that if for some reason you can’t give blood temporarily, come back and see us again as you may be able to donate next time.
Anyone who works at an abattoir (including administrative staff) is eligible to donate blood, however only the plasma portion of your donation is able to be used. This restriction applies while working at an abattoir and for a period of twelve months after ceasing work at an abattoir.
Please note that simply visiting an abattoir does not result in your donation being restricted.
Yes, as long as the acupuncture was performed by a registered acupuncturist* or medical practitioner.
*Registered Acupuncturist: As of November 2011 only Victoria has a registration program for acupuncturists. National registration is anticipated to be introduced in the near future.
If the acupuncture was performed by another type of practitioner you need to confirm that sterile single-use needles were used (newly opened, appropriately disposed of after the procedure).
You can donate 24 hours after your acupuncture treatment.
If sterile single-use (disposable) equipment was not used, or you are unsure if it was used, you can donate six months after the last acupuncture procedure.
Whole blood donors
- New donors can commence donating blood up to their 71st birthday.
- Existing whole blood donors can continue donating blood up to their 81st birthday.
Plasma and Platelet donors
- Existing male whole blood donors can be accepted if aged 18-60 years (ie before their 61st birthday) and meet other eligibility criteria.
- Existing female whole blood donors can be accepted if aged 20-60 years (ie before their 61st birthday) and meet other eligibility criteria.
- Existing whole blood donors aged 61-65 years may be able to start donating plasma and/or platelets subject to the approval of the Blood Service Medical Officer.
- Existing plasma and platelet donors can continue to donate up to their 81st birthday.
All donors are required to retire from donating when they turn 81.
What is the minimum age for blood donation?
The minimum age to donate is 16 years, however, some state/territory legislation requires parental consent for donors aged 16 or 17 years before they’re eligible to donate blood. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must have parental consent to donate blood in Queensland and Western Australia.
Does the Blood Service comply with the Working with Children legislation?
The Blood Service complies with current Working with Children legislation across each state. The legislation does not require Blood Service staff to obtain Working with Children checks and covers the following:
- Blood Service promotional visits to schools
- Donor Mobile Unit visits to schools with Blood Service staff
- Receiving school groups into Donor Centres
- Blood Service staff driving children to and from donor centres.
If a school representative would like to have a Working with Children check undertaken, the Principal of the relevant school should email the request to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond within 3 business days.
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service does not take blood from anyone under the influence of alcohol because intoxication can affect ability to understand and answer the donor questionnaire and declaration, and to tolerate blood withdrawal.
People with mild allergies can donate blood even when taking antihistamines for treatment.
However, you may not be able to donate if you:
- have an allergy to a substance we use in the blood donation process
- have a severe allergy
- are unwell at the time of donation due to your allergy
If this is the case, please call 13 14 95 to speak to Medical Services about your eligibility to donate.
To protect your health and safety, you are not eligible to donate blood.
This will depend on why you are taking the antibiotics.
If you are taking antibiotics for a current infection, the infection must have resolved at least one week ago and the antibiotics completed five days before donating.
If you are taking preventative antibiotics (minocycline, doxycycline or erythromycin) for mild acne then you are able to donate. Preventative antibiotics used where there is not current infection are acceptable in some cases.
If in doubt, call us on 13 14 95.
Taking an antidepressant is generally not a cause for deferral as long as you are well and have no side-effects from the medication.
Please call 13 14 95 to speak to Medical Services about your eligibility to donate.
As there are many forms of this condition and different treatments, please call 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services to discuss your eligibility
We recommend that professional and elite athletes refrain from donating whole blood during the competitive period or season due to a possible minor, temporary impact on performance. This doesn’t apply to plasma donations.
11Bleeding/blood disorder - Can I donate if my partner or I have a bleeding (eg haemophilia) or blood (eg thalassaemia) disorder?
Eligibility for different types of bleeding disorders and blood disorders varies and may be based on your individual circumstances. If you have had sexual contact in the last 12 months with a partner who has one of these disorders, this may also affect your eligibility.
Please call the Blood Service on 13 14 95 and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.
Medicines for the control of blood pressure are acceptable, providing your blood pressure is adequately controlled, stable and you are not experiencing any side effects related to your medication.
If you have had a blood transfusion, the waiting period before you can give blood is 12 months. If you received only autologous blood (that is you donated prior to a procedure and were transfused with your own blood), then you are able to continue donating with a letter from your doctor verifying the only blood transfused was autologous blood.
It is not advisable to donate blood while breast-feeding. Following childbirth, the deferral period is at least 9 months (as for pregnancy) and until your baby is significantly weaned (i.e. getting most of his/her nutrition from solids).
In most cases, the Blood Service accepts people who remain free of cancer five years after the completion of treatment. The five year deferral is to protect the donor's health by ensuring as far as possible that the cancer is gone and will not recur. Five years is the period most often used by cancer doctors to define a presumed cure.
However, people with a history of cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma that involve the blood production system directly, are permanently excluded from donating for the benefit of their own health.
Please call 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services if you have any queries about eligibility.
Your eligibility to donate blood if you have cerebral palsy depends on how this affects you. So long as you are generally fit, able to move freely on and off the donation couch without assistance and there is no difficulty accessing the veins at your elbow, you should be able to donate.
Please call 13 14 95 to speak to Medical Services about your eligibility to donate.
When all your spots are completely clean and dry, you can donate. The Blood Service can use your plasma to provide valuable antibodies to people at risk of infection with chicken pox. If you have been in contact with someone who has chicken pox while they are infectious you cannot donate for 3 weeks after this contact.
At least 9 months, or longer if still breast-feeding significantly at 9 months. See also breast-feeding.
Cholesterol-lowering medication prescribed to prevent coronary artery disease does not affect your eligibility to donate. However, people with existing coronary artery disease must not donate blood for safety reasons.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious, debilitating disease of unknown cause, and the possibility of a link to an infectious agent cannot be excluded. Additionally, the potential effect of long-term blood donation on the health of donors who have previously suffered chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown.
As a result, any person with a past history of this disease is unable to donate blood.
Yes, provided you are not suffering a current episode. Any lesions from a previous episode must be clean and dry.
For your safety and for the safety of the recipient of your blood, you should not donate until you are fully recovered and feeling fit and well
Yes. Taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives) has no effect on your ability to donate blood.
You can donate blood 4 weeks after recovery from dengue fever.
For treatments such as cleaning, fillings and braces, we can only use the plasma from your donation if you donate within the first 24 hours after the treatment. After this 24 hour period, provided you are well, we are able to use the other components of your donation. Longer restrictions may apply for other dental procedures such as extractions, crowns, root canals and implants.
Please call 13 14 95 for limitations that apply for other treatments.
If you have no complications from your diabetes such as eye, blood vessel related or kidney problems and your diabetes is well controlled through diet or oral medication, you will be able to donate.
If you require insulin to control your diabetes, please call Medical Services on 13 14 95 to discuss your eligibility.
If, however, you are free from complications, your diabetes is well controlled and you have not used bovine (cattle-derived) insulin in the past, you will generally still be able to donate.
As diarrhoea can be due to a variety of causes, you have to wait up to 1-4 weeks after recovery. You can speak to Medical Services about your symptoms and eligibility by calling 13 14 95.
This will depend on what drug was taken and how and when it was taken. If you have ever injected drugs not prescribed by a registered medical practitioner, even once, you will not be eligible to donate. The Blood Service values the privacy of donors. All interviews are conducted in private and donor confidentiality is always maintained.
Please call 13 14 95 for further information.
Yes, if you have not had a seizure for at least 3 years. In some cases we may require a letter of approval from your doctor.
As fibromyalgia is a chronic condition for which the cause is not known, and the effect of blood donation on progression of the condition is unclear, we do not accept donations if you have been diagnosed with this condition.
Yes, as the flu vaccine (both seasonal flu and H1N1 or 'swine' flu) is made from 'killed/inactivated/recombinant' material it generally does not affect eligibility, so you will be able to donate.
Glandular fever is caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). You can donate 2 weeks after you have fully recovered from glandular fever. If you had yellow jaundice' or hepatitis associated with glandular fever, you will be deferred for 12 months. When you return, you should notify the interviewer who will then request that additional testing is performed on your donation.
35Haemoglobin - I've been told by my doctor that my haemoglobin is low/I have anaemia. Am I eligible to donate?
Haemoglobin is a protein which contains iron. It is packaged in red blood cells and its function is to transport oxygen around the body. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of low haemoglobin.
The Blood Service requires a finger prick test before every donation to ensure donors have an acceptable haemoglobin level.
If you have been diagnosed with anaemia or low haemoglobin, you can’t donate until it has been fully investigated and appropriately treated.
Take a look at recipes for meals high in iron.
To protect your health and safety, the Blood Service is unable to accept you as a blood donor.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by infection (such as with the hepatitis A or B viruses) or an unknown cause, and you can't donate until at least 12 months after full recovery. After that, the next time you come into the donor centre, extra testing will be performed on your donation.
Please note, however, that if you have/had hepatitis C, you are permanently ineligible to donate.
Yes, provided you are not suffering a current episode. Any lesions from a recent episode must be clean and dry.
You may donate between episodes.
Hypoglycaemia is a term that indicates low blood sugar. There are many reasons for low blood sugar can occur with the treatment of diabetes. If you have symptoms of hypoglycaemia and it is not related to diabetes or other serious illness, you can donate provided that you have eaten properly within 2 hours prior to donating. As with all donors, you should also drink plenty of fluids both before and after donation.
If you have had influenza or a flu-like illness with fever, you are able to donate two weeks after you have made a full recovery.
The Blood Service offers a therapeutic blood collection service to patients with medical conditions such as haemochromatosis, which is one of several causes of a high iron level.
Your doctor will need to request this service for you before you donate as certain criteria need to be met.
If you have a high iron level which is not caused by haemochromatosis, we may still be able to accept you as a blood donor but you will need to meet all of our standard eligibility criteria. You will also need a letter from your doctor generated by our High Ferritin App, confirming your high iron has been investigated and that any significant underlying cause of your condition has been addressed.
To progress your referral for treatment, or to confirm your GP has investigated other causes of your high iron, please ask your GP to access the High Ferritin App on transfusion website.
Please call 13 14 95 and speak to one of our Medical Services staff if you have any queries about this service.
Iron is a mineral nutrient essential to make haemoglobin and for the body to function normally.
Low iron is the most common cause of low haemoglobin. However, if you are low in iron, it’s possible to have enough for a normal haemoglobin level.
If you have been diagnosed with low iron (with or without low haemoglobin) you can’t donate until it (and low haemoglobin if present) has been fully investigated, appropriately treated and corrected. This may include iron replacement therapy and/or dietary changes to increase iron intake.
Take a look at recipes for meals high in iron.
No, people with a history of leukaemia or lymphoma are permanently excluded from donating for the benefit of their own health.
44Liver function - I have been told by the Blood Service in the past that my ALT (liver function test) was too high for me to donate. If my ALT is back to normal, am I OK to donate?
Our current guidelines state that as long as your doctor has excluded any serious ongoing liver disease we can accept you back as a blood donor. Please call 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services if you would like to know more.
45Lupus (Systemic lupus erythematosus) - I have lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE). Can I donate?
You are not eligible to donate if you have SLE because it may affect your fitness to tolerate regular blood donation. It is also possible that regular blood donations could affect the severity of chronic inflammatory conditions such as SLE.
46Mad cow disease - I can’t give blood as I lived in the UK for six months between 1980-1996. When will a test be developed for the cause of mad cow disease?
Although the number of cases of vCJD (the human form of 'mad cow disease') in the UK is declining, in the absence of a screening test, the full extent of exposure is not known.
The Blood Service is monitoring progress in the development of a reliable blood screening test for vCJD. Should this deferral policy be changed for any reason, please be assured that this information will be disseminated widely. More information can be found here.
47Mad cow disease - my parents lived in the UK for six months during the period 1980-1996. Can I donate?
As long as you yourself did not live in the UK for six months or more during that period, then yes you can donate.
A person whose parents have lived in the UK is able to donate blood. The 'mad cow' deferral policy on UK residency applies only to residence after birth - it does not matter if your parents are excluded or if your mother was pregnant with you whilst living in the UK.
Most prescribed medicines do not prevent someone from donating, however, the underlying condition for which the medication has been prescribed may affect eligibility to donate. There are some specific medications that should not be given to pregnant women and new-born babies, for example Roaccutane (for the treatment of acne) and Neotigason (for the treatment of psoriasis). If you are taking any of these medications you will be deferred whilst taking the medication and for a certain time afterwards to ensure it does not remain in your blood.
If you take any medications, it may be worthwhile writing down a list of what medications you are currently taking. This will assist our staff in accurately assessing your eligibility.
Please call us on 13 14 95 if you have any queries.
Menstruation does not affect the ability of most women to donate.
No. As the cause for MS is still unknown, the possibility of a transmissible cause (e.g. virus) cannot be excluded.
If you have been diagnosed as having osteoporosis you will only be eligible to donate whole blood or plasma by apheresis. Currently there are unresolved concerns surrounding the collection of platelets by apheresis and the effect on bone density of people with osteoporosis. As a precautionary measure (to ensure your health), you will be unable to donate platelets by apheresis.
Please call 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services to discuss this further.
Ear piercing: If you have just had your ears pierced and this was performed with clean, single use (disposable) equipment, only the plasma portion of your donation can be used for 24 hours following the procedure. You can then donate blood for full use. If sterile single-use (disposable) equipment was not used, or if you were unsure if it was used you are eligible to donate again six months after the ear piercing procedure. You should inform the donor centre interviewer if you are unsure what kind of equipment was used.
All other piercings: If you have had another body part pierced and this was performed with clean, single use (disposable) equipment, only the plasma portion of your donation can be used for four months following the procedure. You can then donate blood for full use. If sterile single-use (disposable) equipment was not used, or if you were unsure if it was used you are eligible to donate again six months after the piercing procedure. You should inform the donor centre interviewer if you are unsure what kind of equipment was used.
Polycythaemia (rubra) vera is a disease of the bone marrow causing over-production of red blood cells. One of the treatments for this condition is regular removal of blood (venesection) and your doctor may have even referred you to the Blood Service for venesection. Due to the underlying condition, your donation will not be used for transfusion.
Pregnant women are temporarily deferred from donating to avoid any stresses on the mother's and baby's circulation. After childbirth, there is an additional 9 months deferral period from the date of delivery in order to allow adequate time for iron stores to replenish. Donors who are trying to fall pregnant (conceive) should be aiming to build and maintain healthy iron stores to support the increased iron requirements. See also breast-feeding.
Women who have had an early pregnancy loss are temporarily deferred from donating to allow adequate time for their body iron stores to be replenished.
If the pregnancy loss occurred during the first or second trimester, the deferral period is 6 months. For a third trimester pregnancy loss, the deferral period is 9 months.
Please note that one of the questions that needs to be answered at every donation relates to the number of pregnancies the donor has experienced, including early pregnancy losses.
If you would like more information about this, please refer to the brochure: Pregnancy and Blood Donation - why does the Blood Service ask about past pregnancies in the donor questionnaire?
If you have been in prison you are unable to donate for 12 months from the date you leave. This is due to higher rates of hepatitis B & C and HIV infections in the prison population. This also applies if you have spent more than 72 hours in lockup.
If you have any reason to believe you may have acquired an infection through unprotected sex, you should not donate.
Safe sex practices are vital to the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. However, 'protected sex' is not 100% effective and therefore the Blood Service's guidelines relating to sexual activity are based on the prevalence of infection in certain population groups.
The following questions are asked in regard to sexual activity:
- Have you ever thought you could be infected with HIV or have AIDS?
- In the last 12 months have you engaged in sexual activity with someone who you think might answer yes to any of the questions on the following:
- injecting drug use, or
- infection with HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HTLV, or
- treatment with clotting factors?
- Since your last donation or in the last 12 months have you had sexual activity with a new partner who currently lives or has previously lived overseas?
Within the last 12 months have you:
- Had male to male sex (that is, oral or anal sex) with or without a condom?
- Had sex (with or without a condom) with a male who you think may have had oral or anal sex (with or without a condom) with another man?
- Been a male or female sex worker (e.g. received payment for sex in money, gifts or drugs?)
- Engaged in sex with a male or female sex worker?
If at any time, the answer is 'yes' to any of the above questions, then you will be deferred from donating for 12 months after the last occurrence of any of the above sexual activities.
When you are feeling well and the rash is completely clean and dry, you can donate plasma. The Blood Service can use your plasma to provide valuable antibodies to people at risk of infection with chicken pox. You can return to whole blood donation 3 weeks after you have recovered. If you have been in contact with someone who has shingles while they are infectious you cannot donate for 3 weeks after this contact.
If your spleen was removed due to trauma or physical injury you are eligible to donate 6 months after full recovery. If you received a blood transfusion as well, you will not be eligible to donate for 12 months.
If however, your spleen was removed to treat a chronic illness such as immune thrombocytopaenic purpura (ITP) or lymphoma, you are not eligible to donate blood.
To protect your health and safety, the Blood Service is unable to accept you as a blood donor.
If you have surgery planned within 84 days of wishing to donate blood, you may be deferred. Please call 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services to discuss your eligibility.
How long after surgery would I have to wait before I donate?
The length of time in which you are allowed to donate after surgery depends on a number of factors. This includes the medical condition for which you had surgery, the type of surgery and recovery period. Please call 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services to discuss your eligibility.
If you also received a blood transfusion, the waiting period is 12 months.
You are eligible to donate 6 months after receiving the tattoo. This also applies to cosmetic tattooing.
If your medication was prescribed by a doctor registered in Australia you can donate. However in some cases this medication may cause your haemoglobin levels to increase to above the acceptable range. Your haemoglobin level is tested before each donation and so long as it is within the acceptable range you can donate.
In most cases, yes. However, travel to an area with a risk of insect-borne or animal-borne infections can result in symptomless infection that can be transmitted through blood transfusion. Our travel map can help you work out whether you are able to donate when you return.
There are a number areas of concern related to infection risks with overseas travel:
Malaria is the most common example of mosquito-borne infection and is prevalent in many tropical and sub-tropical areas. The Blood Service will test your blood donation for malaria antibodies if:
- you have visited a malaria risk country; or
- you have ever lived for 6 or more months in a malaria risk country; or
- you have had malaria in the past.
The test must be performed at least 4 months after you left the risk country or recovered from malaria.
Until your blood can be tested for malaria antibodies, only the plasma portion of your donation can be used and the remainder, which comprises red cells and platelets, is discarded. Find out more about plasma donations.
If you would prefer to make a whole blood donation, please make an appointment no less than 4 months after leaving a malaria risk country so that we can test your donation for malaria antibodies. If you test negative, all components of your donation can be used for patients.
However, this does not apply to travel to Papua New Guinea (PNG) as there is a risk of relapsing malaria in that country. Despite a negative result for malaria antibodies, we will only be able to use the plasma portion of your donation for a period of 3 years on your return from PNG.
If the test is positive you will be notified.
Some overseas countries have a high prevalence of HIV infection among their general communities. A person who has sex with a person who lives in one of these areas is deferred from donating for a period of 12 months (after the sexual activity, with or without a condom) in order to exclude the possibility of HIV transmission.
Mad Cow - Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)
Although the number of cases of vCJD (the human form of 'mad cow disease' or bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the United Kingdom is declining, in the absence of a screening test, the full extent of exposure is not known.
Since 2004, there have been a small number of reported cases of patients in the United Kingdom (UK) diagnosed with vCJD who have been infected through blood transfusion.
Based on this information, and in the absence of a reliable screening test for vCJD in blood, the Blood Service has implemented policies to reduce the risk of vCJD transmission through blood transfusion in Australia. Currently we exclude people from donating who:
- Have resided in the UK between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 1996 for a total (cumulative) time of 6 months or more,
- Have received blood transfusions in the UK since 1 January 1980.
Unfortunately, because of the extensive time period covered by the deferral and the possibility of unknowing exposure to beef or beef products, it is not possible to exempt vegetarians who have resided in the UK for a cumulative period of 6 months or more during the risk years.
The Blood Service is monitoring progress in the development of a reliable blood screening test for vCJD. Should this deferral policy be changed for any reason, please be assured that this information will be disseminated widely.
West Nile virus
This mosquito-borne virus is prevalent in much of the North American continent. Following travel to the United States and Canada please make your appointment 4 weeks after your return date.
Take a look at our travellers map
If you have been overseas recently, or are planning to go, take a look at our map to see whether you are able to donate when you return.
It depends on the type of vaccine. Those made from 'killed/inactivated/recombinant' material generally do not affect eligibility. These include diphtheria, influenza (both seasonal flu and H1N1 or 'swine' flu), hepatitis A, meningococcus, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumococcus, Q fever, tetanus, human papillomavirus (Gardasil) and others.
The exception is hepatitis B. If you have received this vaccine, you should not donate for a week as it may interfere with our testing.
Vaccines made from live material restrict the use of some parts of your donation for a short period. For four weeks after most of these vaccines (including measles, mumps, rubella, polio (Sabin), chicken pox/shingles and TB (BCG)) we can use only the plasma component of your donation. Longer restrictions are required for smallpox vaccine (8 weeks), trial vaccines or if you do not know the type or source of the vaccine you have received (12 months).
If you are unsure about your eligibility to donate after vaccination, please contact Blood Service on 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services.
You should wait 1 week after receiving any type of vaccine for hepatitis B to donate. Hepatitis A is a different kind of vaccine and it is okay to give blood immediately.
Yes, as long as there is no broken skin or localised infection around the wart.
The amount of blood your body contains is related to your weight and height. Where a standard donation represents too high a proportion of your blood volume, you will be unable to donate.
If you donate whole blood, most people who weigh at least 45kg will be eligible to donate. If you donate plasma or platelets, most people who weigh at least 50kg will be eligible to donate.
This criterion is in place to protect your health as a donor. If your weight becomes acceptable for blood donation at any time you can be accepted as a blood donor. More on the three types of blood donation - whole blood, plasma and platelets.
Our donor chairs have the capacity to hold between 140kg and 200kg, depending on its type and age. If you weigh more than 140kg then please call us to confirm the weight capacity of your local donor centre chairs.
If you are the parent of a donor under the age of 18 please see our Information for parents of young blood donors for Frequently Asked Questions.
Whole blood donors under 18 are eligible to give blood once every 12 months. Once you turn 18 you can give blood as often as every 12 weeks.
I'm ready to donate
Arranging an appointment
You can call us on 13 14 95. Our staff can answer any questions and also organise a time for you to come in to donate.
You can also book an appointment online.
If you would like to make an appointment or ask a question about donating,
please call us on 13 14 95.
Our contact centre is based in Adelaide and is open during the following times.
Please note all times are Australian Central Standard Time.
Monday 06.30 - 21.00 Tuesday 06.30 - 21.00 Wednesday 06.30 - 21.00 Thursday 06.30 - 21.00 Friday 06.30 - 19.30 Saturday 08.30 - 16.30 Sunday and
National Public Holidays
08.30 - 16.30
There are a number of mobile units available across the country. Call us on 13 14 95 to find out if there’s one in your area.
Call us on 13 14 95 with details of where and when your group will be donating and we’ll let you know if a courtesy bus is available. As the buses can get booked up quickly please give us as much notice as possible.
The donation process
Before you come in and donate you should:
- Eat something substantial - this might be cereal and toast for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch. Please don't come in on an empty stomach.
- Drink plenty of liquid the day before your donation, especially in warm weather.
- Consider whether you feel well enough to donate. If you've got a cold or flu, had a stomach upset in the past, or you’ve been to the dentist recently you may not be able to donate. Call us on 13 14 95 to find out and we can reschedule your appointment if necessary.
When you come in to donate you'll be welcomed by our staff and will go through the following steps
- Arrival - you’ll be asked to complete a donor questionnaire, which asks about your general health and is completely confidential. It is designed to protect both you and the person who receives your blood.
- Interview - each time you donate, you will be interviewed by a staff member and given a health check which includes checking your haemoglobin level and blood pressure.
- Giving blood - you should allow about 1 hour from start to finish but the process of donating takes about 5-10 minutes
- Relax and refresh - afterwards, you’ll be able to relax in our refreshment area with a bite to eat and a drink. Within 24-48 hours of donating, your blood volume is completely restored.
We suggest you allow about an hour for your visit.
A standard whole blood collection only takes 5-10 minutes, but it also takes time to fill out the questionnaire, be interviewed privately and enjoy a rest and refreshment afterwards. For your safety it is strongly recommended that you rest for 15 minutes after the blood donation to minimise the risk of fainting.
A plasma donation takes a bit longer - about 45 minutes for the collection component.
- Whole blood donations can be made every 12 weeks.
- Whole blood donors under 18 can give blood every 12 months.
- Plasma or platelet donations can be made every 2-3 weeks.
Your energy level won’t be affected after giving blood but you should avoid strenuous exercise or high-energy activities for 12 hours after donating. Drinking plenty of water will help your body recover.
Donating blood is a very safe process. Each donor’s blood is collected through a new, sterile needle that is used once and then discarded. Occasionally, problems arise and you can reduce the chances of this happening by following this advice.
Your health is very important to the Blood Service. If you feel unwell at any time before, during or after your donation, or you experience pain, it is very important to tell the staff immediately. Even if you start feeling unwell after you leave the donor centre, please call us on 13 14 95 so that you can receive advice on how to manage your symptoms most effectively.
Some people are nervous about donating in case it hurts.
There’s nothing to worry about, but you don’t have to take our word for it… “I am not scared of needles but I was definitely nervous the first time I gave blood, but it really doesn’t hurt.”
- Sarah, Burnie High School, TAS
The Blood Service tests each donation for ABO (blood type) and Rhesus groups (i.e. positive or negative) and red cell antibodies. We also test for five transfusion-transmissible infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, human T-cell lymphotropic virus [HTLV], and syphilis) using eight different tests. Specifically, we test for antibody to hepatitis C, the hepatitis B surface antigen, antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2, antibody to HTLV types I and II and antibodies to syphilis.
The Blood Service also tests all donations for HIV-1 and hepatitis C RNA, as well as hepatitis B DNA, using Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT). This process is different from traditional testing because it looks for the actual presence of viruses, in this case HIV, HCV and HBV. Most other tests detect the presence of antibodies, which are the body's response to an infection and which take time to develop. NAT provides an opportunity to further improve the safety of the blood supply by reducing the 'window period', which is the time between exposure to a virus to the time current tests are able to detect antibodies to the virus.
In addition, malaria screening will be performed if:
- in the previous 3 years you have visited an at-risk country; or
- you lived in an at-risk country for 6 or more months continuously, at any stage of your life; or
- you have ever had malaria.
Does the Blood Service notify donors of test results? How long will it take to get notification of abnormal results?
The Blood Service notifies a donor of any abnormal results on infectious disease and red cell antibody screening once testing is completed – usually within 2 weeks. The donor is advised about their health implications of the positive tests. The information is confidential and released only to the donor and agencies as required by law – such as the State Department of Health.
If I am not contacted, does that mean that I'm OK and have no disease?
No. The purpose of tests conducted by the Blood Service is as a screen to ensure the safest possible transfusions. The testing is confined only to a specific group of blood borne diseases for which there are suitable high volume tests. Donors should not rely on this testing for their own personal health screening.
I received a letter from the Blood Service about a false reactive result. The letter said it was nothing to worry about, but I had a re-test with my doctor to make sure and it was negative. Does this mean I can donate again?
Please call the Blood Service on 13 14 95 and ask to speak to Medical Services for more information regarding any test results before donating.
Australia has one of the safest blood supplies in the world and the Blood Service needs your help to maintain these standards. All blood donations are tested for viruses including HIV, hepatitis B & C, however there is a period of time after a person first becomes infected with a virus during which the infection may not be detectable (often referred to as the ‘window period’). So, the person’s blood could still transmit a disease if transfused to a patient, even though their tests were negative and there was no sign of infection at the time of donation. Also, tests are not available for infections such as vCJD (mad cow diseases). For this reason, a thorough screening process is essential.
A major component of our screening process is designed to identify those people who are at a greater risk of transmitting blood borne infections. In order to safeguard the blood supply it is imperative that these people do not give blood. All screening measures must meet stringent regulatory requirements. While the process is lengthy and may seem intrusive, it is absolutely necessary to safeguard the blood supply.
The questions in the Donor Questionnaire form are designed to understand your recent travel, changes to your health/lifestyle and changes in medication since your last attendance. At each donation, based on the answers you provide, our staff will determine if you can safely donate and whether your donation can be used for patients. It is also a state and territory government legal requirement that the Donor Declaration is signed prior to each donation.
No. The Blood Service receives only voluntary donations of blood. This is in keeping with international World Health Organisation and Red Cross policy that encourages the concept of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation to support safe blood supply.
Everybody has a particular blood type which is jointly inherited from their mother and their father. There are two major blood type systems – the ABO system and the Rhesus system (Rh factor) - the different combinations of which result in eight major blood types.
When a transfusion is required, it is preferable that patients receive blood of the same ABO and Rh(D) type. However, in an emergency, if the required blood type is unavailable, a patient may be given blood of a different, but compatible type.
Red cells give blood its colour and account for 40-50% of its volume.
- Their main function is to carry oxygen from the lungs to all the cells of the body and remove waste products such as carbon dioxide.
- Transfusions are used to treat people with severe anaemia, those whose red blood cells do not function adequately and people experiencing severe bleeding such as accident victims and patients undergoing surgery.
- Red cells are stored in a refrigerator and have a shelf life of up to 42 days.
Platelets are components of blood that assist in the blood clotting process.
- They are literally tiny plates that wedge together covering tears in the blood vessels and preventing blood from leaking into surrounding tissue.
- The primary use of platelets is in the treatment of people with various cancers and other diseases such as leukaemia where the bone marrow is unable to produce adequate numbers of platelets, as well as for people receiving medical treatments like chemotherapy which can decrease a person's platelet count. Platelets are also used to treat people suffering severe blood loss.
- Platelets are stored at room temperature and have a shelf life of only 5 days. This is why it is vital to have a constant flow of blood donations coming in.
Plasma is the straw coloured fluid in which the red cells, white cells and platelets are suspended.
- Plasma is the most versatile component of blood as it can be processed into a variety of products and each product can be used to treat a number of potentially life-threatening conditions.
- Plasma is stored frozen and has a shelf life of up to 12 months
It is possible to give platelet or plasma-only donations every 2 weeks - find out more.
A single unit of blood taken during a whole blood donation is about 470mL (less than half a litre), which is less than 10% of your total blood volume. Your body keeps on replenishing blood all the time whether you give blood or not, so this amount is quickly replaced.
An average size adult has a blood volume of around 4.5 - 5.5 litres.
Whole blood donations are separated into their components (red cells, platelets and plasma). After processing, red cells are refrigerated and can be stored for up to 42 days. Platelets are stored at room temperature and can be stored for up to 5 days. Plasma is frozen and can be stored for up to 12 months.
Whilst a significant proportion of the plasma is used for direct transfusion to patients, the majority of donated plasma is further processed into a number of very important plasma products. These plasma products include immunisations against chicken pox, hepatitis B and tetanus; clotting factors for the treatment of patients with haemophilia; protein products for the treatment of patients with burns, liver and kidney diseases; and immunoglobulin products for the treatment of patients with antibody deficiencies and other disorders of the immune system.
All blood donations are tested and processed and available for use between 24 and 48 hours after collection. Whole blood is separated into its components (red cells, platelets, plasma). After processing, red cells can be stored for up to 42 days; plasma is frozen and can be stored for up to 12 months; and platelets have a shelf-life of only five days.
After donation, all blood is tested at every donation for blood type, the presence of red cell antibodies and for the following infections: HIV1 & 2, hepatitis B & C, HTLV I & II and syphilis. Some donations are also tested for malaria depending on the donor's answers to the questions on the donor questionnaire.
Find out more about testing.
Distribution of the blood and blood products to hospitals is determined by when, where and how much blood will be needed at any given time. In emergencies, blood can be transported between hospitals, towns and states/territories so that we can ensure that the blood is available when it is needed.