Fresh blood and blood products

Blood is the fluid that transports oxygen and nutrients around the body. An average adult has almost 5 litres of blood circulating in their body.

Blood is used as a treatment for many medical conditions, including:

  • cancer, such as leukaemia
  • major trauma and surgery
  • haemophilia
  • anaemia and blood disorders
  • immune disorders
  • pregnancy and birth
  • burns
  • fractures and joint replacements.

Blood donations

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood(Opens in a new tab/window) (Lifeblood) is the sole provider of fresh blood products in Australia. It is a division of the Australian Red Cross Society. In Australia, people voluntarily donate blood through Lifeblood. A single blood donation can help more than one person. This is because the parts of blood help different patients in different ways. A high demand for blood products means more life-saving donors are always needed.

You can donate whole blood, plasma or platelets(Opens in a new tab/window) through Lifeblood.

Blood components

Fresh blood is made up of 4 parts:

  • red blood cells – carry oxygen and remove waste products
  • white blood cells – help our bodies fight infections
  • plasma – carries blood cells and other substances around our bodies
  • platelets – help with blood clotting and tissue repair.

Donated blood is spun in a centrifuge and separated into 3 parts – red blood cells, plasma and platelets.

Red blood cells and platelets are filtered to remove white blood cells.

Fresh frozen plasma products

Red blood cells and platelets are used as they are, but much more can be done with plasma.

Plasma can be frozen and used as is, or undergo further processes to create other products. Plasma can undergo a freezing and thawing process to create cryoprecipitate and cryodepleted plasma.

Learn how fresh frozen plasma products are used.

Plasma-derived and recombinant products

Plasma can also undergo a fractionation process to create other types of treatment products, including:

  • clotting factors to treat people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders
  • immunoglobulin (Ig) to help patients with immune system disorders and immune-mediated conditions
  • hyperimmune Ig products to treat exposures to specific diseases
  • albumin for burns, surgery and kidney disease treatment.

Recombinant products are synthetic alternatives to some plasma-derived products and are not made from human blood. Recombinant products are used in the treatment of haemophilia and other bleeding disorders to control bleeds when they occur and prevent future bleeds.

Find out more about the supply of plasma and recombinant products in Australia.

Image showing how donated blood is used to create different treatment products and which products are made from recombinant DNA technology and other methods.
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Products created from donated blood, recombinant DNA technology and other methods in the Australian blood sector.

Accessing and ordering blood products

We use several information and communications technology systems to manage products distributed by Lifeblood. These help us provide a safe, secure and affordable blood supply for all Australians.

We call these our Blood Sector Systems. They help us manage Australia's blood and blood product supply.

Health professionals can use them to manage product orders, patient access to treatments, inventory and reporting.

A BloodPortal account is a unique and individual login, not to be shared with others. One username and password gives you access to all of our Blood Sector Systems, including:

  • Australian Bleeding Disorders Registry (ABDR)
  • BloodNet
  • BloodSTAR
  • Jurisdictional Reports.

BloodNet is Australia's online blood ordering and inventory management system. Laboratories, pharmacies and other facilities can use it to order blood and blood products from Lifeblood.

BloodSTAR is Australia's online system for accessing government-funded immunoglobulin (Ig) products. It also helps health professionals manage the governance obligations set out in our national policy for access to Ig products.

Blood product management

Blood and blood products are valuable resources. If you work with blood products, you have an important role in making sure they are used appropriately and not wasted.

Learn more about blood product management.

Find out how we are reducing wastage of blood and blood products and what you can do to help.

Products we fund

Under the National Blood Agreement, our role is to deliver an uninterrupted supply of blood and blood products to Australians in need.

We are responsible for procuring the products that health ministers agree to make available. We include these products in the National Product Price List.

Lifeblood collects blood donations and supplies red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

Lifeblood is the only supplier of fresh blood products in Australia. We have a Deed of Agreement with the Australian Red Cross Society to secure fresh blood supplies from Lifeblood.

Lifeblood collects plasma for fractionation to supply to CSL Behring for the manufacture of plasma-derived products.

To ensure security of supply, the NBA supplements domestically manufactured products with plasma products imported from overseas through a diverse set of suppliers.

Get in touch

If you have a query about blood products in Australia, please contact us.

Last updated: 27 Mar 2024

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