When you’re giving blood with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, your comfort and safety are our top priorities.
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.
Most people have between 4.5 and 5L of blood in their body, so a whole blood donation is usually less than just 10 per cent of that. Your body restores the lost blood volume quickly. This is because, whether you give blood or not, your body constantly makes new blood to replace the old.
To protect your health we also have restrictions on how often you can donate.
Donation and under-18s
Anyone over 16 years old but under 18 can only donate whole blood once every 12 months. This is because you’re still growing and your body can take longer to restore your iron levels after you donate.
Iron levels and blood donation
When you donate whole blood you lose some iron. Before each donation, we check your level of haemoglobin, which is a protein containing iron. If the level is too low you’ll be unable to give blood.
Learn more about whole blood donation and iron health.
Your health and comfort
Most people feel fine during and after donating blood.
In fact, many donors find donating a relaxing break from the frantic pace of everyday life, as well as being personally fulfilling.
Some people do occasionally feel a small pinch when the needle goes in, but you shouldn’t feel any discomfort during the donation. A bit nervous? Read our tips.
Very rarely, some people feel unwell during or after a donation. Our expert team members closely monitor you while you’re in the centre, and record and follow-up all episodes where a donor feels uncomfortable or unwell. We use this information to keep you safe and to improve our procedures to make donating blood as safe and comfortable as possible for all of our donors.
You can reduce any chance of this by following these steps before and after you donate.
The Blood Service tests all blood donations in Australia for a number of serious infections to protect the patients who receive donated blood.
We also test for some indicators of blood health, like iron levels and antibodies (proteins made by our immune system to help fight infections). Some antibodies can affect how patients’ bodies respond to donated blood when it’s transfused.
If our tests show anything abnormal, we contact you as soon as possible and provide counselling, referral and support.
As with all information held by the Blood Service, the answers on your donor questionnaire and your test results are confidential. Test results are released only to the donor and agencies, such as to state government health departments, when required by law.