How Donated Blood is Used

Red Cells

The majority of donated blood goes to people with cancer, as well as people who have suffered traumatic accidents, burns or those undergoing surgery.

How donated blood is used_web


Plasma contains very important proteins, nutrients and clotting factors which help to prevent and stop bleeding. It is the most versatile component of your blood and donated plasma makesup to 18 life-saving products that help patients with trauma, burns and blood diseases.

Blood has a short shelf life

All blood components have a short shelf life, creating the need for a constant blood supply.

  • Platelets – up to 5 days
  • Red cells- up to 42 days
  • Plasma – up to one year

Interested in Blood Donation?

Check if you are eligible to donate. Make an Appointment to Donate

Find out more about the different donation types you can make.


Your platelet donation helps patients with low platelet count or non-functioning platelets who are bleeding or at high risk of bleeding. This may occur during high dose chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, major surgery, liver disease or severe trauma.

Platelets play a crucial role in ensuring our blood can clot when needed. Platelets also contain growth factors that aid in the repair of damaged body tissue.

Find out more about donating platelets.

Ensuring Blood Safety

We recognise that the Australian community has confidence and trust in the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to have one of the safest blood supplies in the world. It is our most important driver as an organisation.

Each time you give blood, we test your donation for ABO (blood type), Rh groups (i.e. positive or negative) and red cell antibodies.

We also test all donations for 5 transfusion-transmissible infectious diseases, using 7 different tests:


  2. Hepatitis B
  3. Hepatitis C
  4. Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)
  5. Syphilis.
  6. Specifically

We test for the hepatitis B surface antigen, antibody to hepatitis C, antibody to both HIV-1 and HIV-2, antibody to HTLV types I and II and antibodies to syphilis.

We also test all donations for HIV-1, hepatitis B and hepatitis C RNA using nucleic acid testing (NAT). This process is different from traditional testing because it looks for the actual presence of viruses, in this case HIV and HCV. Most other tests detect the presence of antibodies, which are the body’s response to an infection and which take time to develop. NAT provides an opportunity to further improve the safety of the blood supply by reducing the “window period”, which is the time between exposure to a virus to the time current tests are able to detect antibodies to the virus.

We also perform a test for malaria antibodies on donations from donors who have reported residence in, or travel to, an area with malaria.

Test Results

We notify donors of any abnormal results on infectious disease and red cell antibody screening once testing is completed, usually within 2 weeks. The donor is advised about their health implications of the positive tests.

As with all information held by the Blood Service, the information is confidential and released only to the donor and agencies as required by law such as to the State Department of Health.

Rh Blood Factor Explanation

Determining A-B-O Blood Types

Blood Agglutination By Antibodies

A-B-O Donor-Recipient Compatibility