Donors aged 50+: why do people donate in mid-later life?

What did we do?

We looked into how people’s experience of donating blood changes over time and with age. We interviewed 34 donors aged 50 and over who had donated from two to 52 years.

Why is it important?

With Australians living longer, healthier lives, older adults can make a greater contribution to the blood supply. Here at Lifeblood, we need as many donations as we can get, but we don’t know much about why people choose to donate blood in later life and what donation means to them. We also wanted to know donors’ thoughts on removing the upper age limit for existing donors.

What did we find out?

When we asked donors why they continued to donate, they told us it’s because they still felt like they could help others by donating blood. Here are a few reasons they gave:

  • Wanting to give back after having a fortunate life
  • Donating is an easy way to contribute to society
  • Finding donation to be physically easy
  • Understanding how much blood is needed

When we asked donors their thoughts on removing the upper age limit for existing donors, most thought people should be able to donate blood in old age while they were still healthy.

“I actually think it’s great that we can continue giving no matter what stage of our lives we are, because lots of us are still pretty healthy.”

“I feel like I’ll continue to give blood as long as I’m healthy enough (and) I don’t become precluded because of some medication I have to take or something like that.”

Some donors suggested that that older people who were new to donation might need medical oversight.

In short, donors thought they were making a valuable contribution to Lifeblood and to the wider community by donating blood. They wanted to continue to donate for as long as they were eligible or until it became too difficult for them. 

What happens next?

We’ve developed recommendations for Lifeblood specifically focused on encouraging more people aged 50 and over to start and continue donating blood.

If you’d would like more information about this study, please contact Rachel Thorpe at rthorpe@redcrossblood.org.au

Back to top