By the late 1930s we had both the refrigeration technology and know-how to store blood outside of the body for days

This meant we no longer needed to collect blood transfusions on demand during an operation, but could bank blood in advance.

These developments enabled us to assist the Australian Government and Defence Forces in supplying blood with the advent of World War II in 1939. The war saw the expansion of Red Cross managed Lifeblood around Australia, with tens of thousands of Australians donating blood to support troops on the frontline.

Given our established national presence and our engagement with local communities, we were chosen to coordinate blood transfusion services across the Australia, as part of the war effort. And so, the Red Cross National Emergency Blood Transfusion Service was established.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Early transfusions were made directly from the donor to the patient
  • Blood was able to be stored for days outside the body for the first time, thanks to refrigeration technology
  • Australians assist the Government and Defence Forces in supplying troops with blood during World War II
  • Women played an important role during this time, with female doctors collecting blood from mainly female donors, tended to by female voluntary aides
  • The Red Cross National Emergency Blood Transfusion Service was established, coordinating blood transfusion services across Australia as part of the war effort