For the first time, we had to educate Australians about the safety of donating blood

Australia recorded its first case of AIDS in 1983 and while our quick response to this new threat helped minimise the potential of recipient infection, the misinformation in the early days changed the nature of blood banking forever.

Donor numbers dropped significantly, despite the risk being only for recipients of infected blood, not the donor. This new question around blood being ‘safe’ also impacted the frequency of blood being used in surgery.

Re-evaluating how blood was used in hospitals saw the birth of Patient Blood Management. Doctors and surgeons were now required to mitigate the need for a blood transfusion and use cell salvage machines to ‘recycle’ a patient’s own blood during surgery where possible.

In 1983 the New South Wales Health Commission appointed us as the coordinator for kidney transplantations. The New South Wales Blood Transfusion Service took a collaborative approach with all states, other than Western Australia, and linked into our central tissue typing computer to make the first steps towards a national renal transplant program.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Donor numbers decreased following Australia’s first case of AIDS
  • We held a pivotal role in educating donors about the safety of donating blood
  • Patient Blood Management was introduced in hospitals, with doctors and surgeons required to use cell salvage machines to ‘recycle’ a patient’s own blood during surgery
  • We were appointed the coordinator for kidney transplantations