About blood and blood products

Blood and blood products save lives and improve the health of patients. Learn about blood and blood products in Australia, why they’re important, and where to get more information.

What blood and blood products are

Blood and blood products treat many health conditions and save the lives of patients. In Australia, we rely on donations for blood and blood products, and import blood products where needed.

The National Blood Authority (NBA) manages and coordinates the supply of blood and blood products and services in Australia.

Read about how we fund and manage blood and blood products in Australia.

Blood

Blood is made up of:

  • red blood cells – which transport oxygen
  • white blood cells – which defend the body against infections
  • platelets – which help the blood clot and tissue repair
  • plasma – the liquid part of the blood, which carries the blood cells and other substances around the body.

Read more about blood.

Fresh blood products

Red blood cells, platelets and plasma can be separated from one blood donation and used individually, depending on the condition being treated.

Plasma is then manufactured into various plasma products, to treat different conditions.

Read more about fresh blood products.

Plasma-derived blood products

Through a process called fractionation, plasma from human blood is made into various plasma-derived products, such as immunoglobulin and albumin.

Read more about plasma-derived blood products.

The Criteria for the clinical use of immunoglobulin in Australia determines when it is clinically appropriate to use immunoglobulin.

Why blood and blood products matter

Blood and blood product donations are a critical part of our health system, saving lives and improving the health of patients. This includes for:

  • patients with cancer
  • people with blood disease
  • surgery patients
  • trauma patients, such as people who have been in an accident
  • new mothers, following difficult childbirth
  • people who need, or have had, a bone marrow transplant
  • people with various health conditions, like anaemia, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, primary immunodeficiency and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

We also use blood to diagnose various communicable diseases and chronic conditions.

The screening process for all donated blood in Australia is strict to ensure the safety of patients who receive the blood.

Who needs blood and blood products

About 1 in 3 of us will need blood or blood products at some stage in our lives – to treat existing conditions or following an emergency.

Read about blood and blood products in Australia.

Donating blood or plasma

In Australia, we rely on generous donations to help meet the demand for blood and blood products. We always need more people to donate blood so we can meet the health needs of Australians.

Most healthy adults can give blood or plasma. Things that might affect whether you can donate blood or plasma include:

  • age and weight
  • health conditions
  • taking certain medications
  • having an infectious disease
  • having recently travelled to some countries.

The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood collects whole blood and plasma from voluntary, unpaid donors. Find out more about becoming a blood donor.

Donating organ and tissue can also save and transform lives. Read more about organ and tissue donation in Australia.

Last updated: 
15 December 2020

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