If you or someone you care for needs blood or blood products, finding clear, credible information can be hard. This page provides information, resources and links to trustworthy sources that may assist you.

If you have questions about anything on this page, please contact us.

Types of blood products

Some injuries and health conditions require specific blood and blood products for treatment.

These include fresh blood products, such as:

  • red blood cells
  • plasma
  • platelets.

They also include plasma-derived and recombinant (synthetic) products, such as:

  • albumin products
  • clotting factor products
  • immunoglobulin (Ig) products.

Blood product supply

A reliable supply of blood and blood products is a critical part of health care in Australia. The NBA's role is to manage blood supply nationally to ensure patients who need these products can access them.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood(Opens in a new tab/window) (Lifeblood) has a contract with us to collect, store and distribute blood and blood products in Australia.

We also have contracts with commercial suppliers for some blood and related products. For example, we have contracts with:

  • CSL Behring Australia Pty Ltd (CSL Behring) to manufacture and supply fractionated blood products
  • CSL Behring, Grifols, Takeda and Octapharma to supply imported Ig products.

Blood product safety

Australia has several standards and requirements to ensure blood product safety, quality and efficacy. These include:

  • licensing manufacturers
  • performing pre-market assessments
  • testing products
  • auditing manufacturers.
     

Regulating blood products

Blood product manufacturers must meet stringent guidelines for producing safe blood products. This applies to both Australian suppliers and those from overseas.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the Australian Government authority responsible for evaluating, assessing and monitoring products that are defined as therapeutic goods. This includes medicines, medical devices and biologicals.

The TGA is also responsible for regulating blood products and establishing production standards. This includes:

  • auditing licensed manufacturers to ensure they comply with good manufacturing practice
  • issuing directives such as donor deferrals
     
  • issuing licences to companies that manufacture blood or blood products
  • making changes to safety standards
  • managing product recalls
  • regulating the sector to ensure effective, safe, high-quality blood and blood products under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth)(Opens in a new tab/window)
  • reviewing and approving the Guidelines for the Selection of Blood Donors.

The TGA website provides more information about the regulation of blood(Opens in a new tab/window).

Reporting adverse events

The TGA also tracks adverse events (unintended and sometimes harmful occurrences) related to therapeutic goods, including blood transfusions and blood products.

Learn more about reporting adverse events to the TGA(Opens in a new tab/window).

Find out more about transfusion-related adverse events.

Lifeblood

Lifeblood collects, stores and distributes fresh blood and blood products in Australia. This means it also has certain responsibilities in ensuring blood products are safe.

Learn more about Lifeblood(Opens in a new tab/window).

Selecting or deferring donors

A safe blood supply starts with carefully managing who can donate blood. This also helps to keep donors safe.

Lifeblood assesses whether people are eligible to donate by:

  • requiring potential donors to fill out a form
  • interviewing respondents about their answers
  • performing a brief physical check.

Based on the selection guidelines, Lifeblood assesses each potential donor's eligibility(Opens in a new tab/window).

Testing blood

After collecting donated blood, Lifeblood is responsible for testing it for several infectious diseases(Opens in a new tab/window).

Regulated or mandated tests are:

  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis C
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) types I and II
  • syphilis.

Tracking and tracing

Track-and-trace mechanisms are in place to ensure all donations can be tracked from their entry point to the recipient. Any imported blood products also need to be traceable through this system.

Product recall processes rely on these tracking and tracing mechanisms to ensure blood product safety and quality.

Lifeblood currently uses a sample archive process, which involves keeping a small sample from each blood donation. Testing this sample allows Lifeblood to quickly identify any blood supply risks and analyse any adverse events.

Bleeding disorders, blood disorders and other conditions

Transfusing blood or using blood products can be part of treating some health conditions.

We call these conditions 'blood disorders', and they include:

  • anaemia – conditions in which your body does not have enough haemoglobin or red blood cells 
     
  • bleeding disorders – conditions in which your blood either clots too much, or does not clot enough
  • blood cancers – conditions in which certain cells in your blood become cancerous.

Bleeding disorders | Blood disorders

Some people also require blood or blood product transfusions for other reasons, including:

  • major surgical procedures
  • serious injuries
  • childbirth blood loss
  • kidney disease, which can result in anaemia
  • chemotherapy side effects.

MyABDR and the Australian Bleeding Disorders Registry

The Australian Bleeding Disorders Registry (ABDR) is a database of Australians who have bleeding disorders. It's a clinical tool specialists use to plan for patient needs and improve treatment results.

MyABDR helps patients share information with their clinicians about home treatments and bleeds. The MyABDR app and website interface with our ABDR database.

MyABDR app | ABDR

Travelling with blood products

If you receive treatment with blood products and need to travel, special requirements may apply. These will differ depending on whether you are travelling within Australia or internationally.

For example, you may need a permit to take some products overseas. Depending on where you travel, you may have to store and carry products in specific ways. You should also know how to access emergency treatment if you need it while you are away.

Ask your clinician as early as possible about taking blood products with you. Ideally, speak to them several months before you travel.

Other information for patients and carers

These resources will help you to understand best practices for blood products. They provide useful information on how to rely less on donated blood products if you:

  • plan to have surgery
  • have an iron-deficiency anaemia diagnosis.

Blood transfusions

Before having a blood transfusion for the first time, it's helpful to know:

  • the different types of transfusion
  • the risks and benefits of a transfusion
  • what to expect.

Lifeblood has useful patient information about blood transfusions(Opens in a new tab/window).

Other good sources to consult include:

Clinical practice

Our website also contains resources for clinicians who treat patients with bleeding and blood disorders and other conditions that require transfusions.

Patient blood management

If your clinician recommends surgery as part of your treatment, they should discuss patient blood management principles with you.

Patient blood management improves patient outcomes by improving the patient’s medical and surgical management in ways that boost and conserve the patient’s own blood.

Learn more about patient blood management(Opens in a new tab/window).

Public consultations

We invite you to give us input when we plan, develop and test policies and guidelines.

Learn more about our open and recently closed consultations(Opens in a new tab/window).

About the NBA

The NBA manages and coordinates arrangements to supply blood, blood products and blood services in Australia.

We ensure that people who need blood and blood products can access them safely, securely and appropriately.

Get in touch

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

Last updated: 27 Mar 2024

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