Understanding insights from Anti-D donors: research study update

“Who among the population gets given this gift? I mean, people often say, ‘What am I here for? What’s my purpose?’ Well, all of us in the Anti-D Program have got a purpose. It’s very clear. If you’re asked to do this and you can do it, why wouldn’t you do it?”

What was the question?

We wanted to learn more about what it’s like being an Anti-D donor and use these insights to find better ways of attracting new donors.

Why is it important?

We rely on Anti-D donors to prevent deadly haemolytic disease in babies. At the moment, the number of Anti-D donors is quite small and we want to come up with new ways to bring new donors into the program.

What did we do?

We invited Anti-D donors to either take part in an interview or join an online discussion. We also interviewed Lifeblood staff who work on the Anti-D program as well as non-boosted Anti-D donors.

What did we find out?

Our Anti-D donors are really dedicated to the program and are very motivated to help make sure Lifeblood can continue to help people in Australia who need Anti-D.

We also found out that Anti-D donors:

  • Often have a personal connection to Anti-D recipients
  • Were excited when they first learned that they had created Anti-D
  • Want to donate for as long as possible
  • Overcome the common reasons why other donors might not donate (e.g. work commitments, distance to a donor centre)
  • Donate often and don’t like to miss donations
  • Enjoy being thanked by people who had needed Anti-D
  • Don’t feel the need to be rewarded for their efforts


Why do Anti-D donors want to be part of the program?

Personal connection

Some donors wanted to be part of the program because they had a personal connection to Anti-D. Many participants had needed Anti-D themselves or knew someone who had needed it.

No different to donating plasma

Some donors were happy to be part of the program because they wanted to help as much as possible. They felt that donating Anti-D was not that different to donating plasma regularly.

Sense of responsibility

Donors said they felt a sense of responsibility to stay in the program and to donate often. They know that what they’re donating is special and that only a few people could replace them if they stopped donating.

What would stop Anti-D donors from donating?

Donors said that being on the Anti-D program was a positive experience, and most found it hard to think of any negative aspects. They weren’t concerned about any adverse reactions to the boosts because these were usually minor or managed with support from staff.

Leaving the program

Donors spoke about being an Anti-D donor as a long-term commitment, and didn’t have any plans to leave the program in the near future. Many believed that one day they would need to stop because of their health. Donors also tried to stay healthy to make sure they could continue to donate.

I am in this for the long haul so racking up the numbers as a personal goal is less important than continuing to donate as a long as I can.”


Donors thought it was important to educate people about Anti-D through recognition events, information and mentoring. They didn’t want to be rewarded for donating Anti-D, but they did like being thanked by Anti-D recipients and promoting Anti-D through events. Some donors said that they enjoyed interacting with other Anti-D donors at these events as well.

Bringing in new donors

Donors spoke positively about how they were asked to join the program. They understood the information they were given about Anti-D and the risks involved, and had plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Donors were also enthusiastic about the idea of mentoring new Anti-D donors because they thought their experiences and knowledge would help to answer questions from a donor point of view.

I wonder if there were some way to provide people with a contact who is already on the program, with whom they can have a discussion about what it's like for 'a real person'?”

What happens next?

We’ve created a list of recommendations we think will help with bring in new donors and further support current donors to keep giving.

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

Thank you to all the donors and staff who generously helped us by participating in this study.  

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