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History

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service as a single, national organisation was formally created in 1996. But, our beginnings go back more than 80 years.

In 1929, Dr Lucy Bryce set up the first Red Cross volunteer blood transfusion service in Australia. For decades after, separate state and territory Red Cross blood banks managed the collection and supply of blood across Australia.

Becoming a national organisation improved how we collect and process blood and made it easier for us to share knowledge with other blood services across the world. The result is world-class quality, consistency and safety for Australia’s blood supply.

1665

First successful blood transfusion - on a dog, not a human!

1818

First human blood transfusion performed by James Blundell, a British obstetrician.

1900

Blood types discovered by Dr Karl Landsteiner.

1914

Vein-to-vein transfusions used to treat shock during World War I.

1929

Australia's first Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service founded in Victoria.

1939

Victorian Red Cross Service begins banking blood rather than direct transfusions.

1939

During World War II, state blood services provide volunteer blood for military and civilians.

1942

Australia’s first mobile blood bank makes its maiden journey in WA.

1945

The Red Cross takes over the Army's blood preparation centres.

1960s

Plastic blood bags revolutionise blood collection. Blood and its derivatives used to treat injuries, burns, cancer, surgery and haemophilia.

1967

Ground-breaking Anti-D Program uses donor plasma to create anti-D immunoglobulin injections to prevent deadly haemolytic disease in newborn babies.

1985

Australia becomes the first country to screen entire blood supply for HIV.

1990

Australia becomes the second country in the world to screen entire blood supply for hepatitis C.

1993

First National Blood Donor Week recognises and thanks blood donors.

1996

State and Territory blood transfusion services amalgamate to form the Australian Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service.

2003

Annual number of blood donations by Australians reaches one million.

2009

Year of the Blood Donor celebrates 80 years of Red Cross blood services in Australia.

2011

James Harrison, pioneering member of the Anti-D program, makes his 1000th donation. His plasma has been included in every batch of anti-D injections given to pregnant Australian mothers since 1967 and has saved the lives of over 2 million babies.

2014

18 different medical products now made from plasma, from treatments for bleeding disorders to immunisations.

2014

Blood Service trials frozen blood products for use by the Australian Defence Force on the frontline.

Today

World-class 24/7 Blood Service ready to support Australia's growing population.