Issue #124
May 2022
Lifeblood urges Aussies to roll up their sleeves

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian blood donation service, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood reported a significant impact to donation services as many donors cancelled their appointments during lockdowns, despite blood donation being an essential service. Ahead of National Blood Donor Week which takes place from 13-19 June, we spoke to Dr James Daly, Medical Director, Pathology Services at Lifeblood to see if things have changed.

“The pandemic has stretched blood supplies globally, but we are extremely grateful that people here in Australia continued to roll up their sleeves and ensure that patients received the blood and blood products they need. At the beginning of this year, we did see up to 100,000 donors sidelined by Omicron, and with so many people unwell and having to isolate, we are still seeing high levels of cancellations and no shows, with one in two appointments not being attended. We are always working to make blood donation easier for people and have extended our opening hours in centres across the country. In fact, this year for the first time, we opened several centres on Christmas Day and Good Friday following feedback from cultural groups who wanted to help when others may not be able to,” said Dr Daly.

In January 2022, Lifeblood changed the rules about how quickly someone can resume donations after COVID-19. Now, people only need to wait seven days after being fully recovered to book an appointment. Before then, anyone who had COVID-19 had to wait until they were fully recovered plus another 28 days before giving blood.

“Our COVID-19 policy is now in line with our policies for other infections such as the flu or common cold. In Australia, a new donor is needed every 5 minutes, so this was a welcome change, allowing more people to donate. Worldwide, there have been zero instances of transmission through any sort of blood transfusion so we can be confident that this was a safe decision” said Dr Daly.

Another big change for Lifeblood is that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has lifted a ban which prevented UK residents from donating blood in Australia. Since December 2000, anyone who had spent a total of six months or more in the UK between 1980 and 1996 has been prevented from donating blood due to the risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or 'mad cow disease'. The lifting of this ban could potentially affect more than 700,000 people living in Australia.

“We are delighted with this outcome which ultimately makes it easier for more Australians to give blood, while also ensuring Australia’s blood supply remains one of the safest in the world. We look forward to welcoming these new donors to our centres soon, but until then, there are still millions of people across Australia who are eligible to donate blood today and we would ask them to consider becoming a blood donor,” said Dr Daly.

For anyone considering becoming a blood donor, Lifeblood has an eligibility quiz to help work out whether or not you may be able to donate. You can also call Lifeblood on 13 14 95 and find out more information at



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The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
Durham Hall - 207 Albion St Surry Hills NSW 2010 AUSTRALIA
Phone: +61 2 8356 5858