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Mistaken beliefs hinder blood donations

Tuesday 13th Mar 2018

Australia could be missing out on vital blood donations because of misconceptions about the shelf life of donated blood.

A recent survey by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service shows almost 90 per cent of Australians don’t know how long donated blood lasts for.

The answer is 42 days.

The survey also revealed more than a third of Australians would be more likely to donate blood if they knew it had a short shelf life.

The findings have prompted the Blood Service to launch a new campaign, which aims to recruit 8000 new blood donors every month.

“Blood is a precious and finite resource, and blood donations don’t last forever. In fact, the red cell component of a donation only lasts 42 days,” Blood Service spokesperson Jennifer Campbell Case said.

“Coincidentally, in Douglas Adams’ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything.

“This certainly rings true for those Australians who need blood; for them blood donations mean life, the universe and everything.”

Similar misconceptions about blood donor rates and blood need could also explain why one in five of those surveyed had never considered donating blood.

“Australians are overestimating how many people donate blood, and underestimating how much blood is actually needed,” Ms Campbell Case said.

“More than half of the respondents thought at least one in 10 people were blood donors, but the real figure is much less; only one in 30.

“And 80 per cent either didn’t know or underestimated the number of blood donations Australian patients need each year.

“We’re hoping that our new campaign, which educates donors on the 42 day shelf life of blood, will motivate more people to donate today and donate regularly.”

To be life, the universe and everything to someone in need, visit and sign up to give blood.