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Australians urged to roll up their sleeves and help save lives this World Blood Donor Day

Wednesday June 14, 2023

  • Only 3.5 per cent of Australians currently donate blood regularly
  • One third of all red blood cell donations used to treat cancer, blood diseases
  • Rising blood cancer incidence rates will leave more Australians reliant on blood donations to save their life

Recent reports from Lifeblood confirm an alarmingly low (3.5 per cent) number of Australians regularly donate blood, prompting the Leukaemia Foundation and Australian Red Cross Lifeblood to join forces to urge Australians to roll up their sleeves and make life-saving blood donations this World Blood Donor Day (14 June).

With one third of all red blood cell donations nationally going to cancer patients, the Leukaemia Foundation’s CEO Chris Tanti said increasing the number of Australians donating by a mere 1.5 per cent, will make a monumental difference to blood cancer patients across the country.

“53 Australians are diagnosed with blood cancer every day, and this number is predicted to double by 2035[1]. Consequently, the number of blood donations required to support blood cancer patients will also double,” explained Mr Tanti.

“With more than 135,000 Australians currently living with blood cancer, many will know someone who has been impacted. However, most Australians are still unaware of just how critical blood donations are to managing a cancer diagnosis. Blood donations are not only integral to life-saving treatment plans but also in mitigating side effects faced by these patients.”

On average, one acute leukaemia patient in treatment needs nine units (2.25 litres) of red cells every month, or 36 units (just over one litre) of platelets each month, with four donors needed to make up each bag of platelets. They could need one or both of these products for the duration of their diagnosis, which can last anywhere from eight months to years.

“3.5 per cent of Australians donate blood, and that means there could be more than 13 million Australians who may be able to donate, but don’t. The reality is if 18 of these Australians signed up today to become a monthly blood donor, that would be enough donated blood to treat just one person diagnosed with blood cancer, so we really are relying on everyday Australians to lend the blood cancer community a helping arm as often as they can,” Mr Tanti said.

Lifeblood’s CEO, Stephen Cornelissen AM, said World Blood Donor Day provided an opportunity to raise awareness and recognise the impact blood and plasma donors have on helping save the lives of cancer patients.

“Australia’s blood and plasma donors are unsung heroes. By donating blood and plasma, individuals have the power to make a life-saving difference for someone in need. This World Blood Donor Day please consider giving blood or plasma with the knowledge you’re providing an invaluable lifeline to the growing number of Australians living with blood cancer,” Mr Cornelissen said.

If you’re 18-75 years old and are feeling well, you may be able to give blood. To check your eligibility and book a donation call 13 14 95, visit or download the Donate Blood App.

If you or someone you know is impacted by blood cancer, contact 1800 620 420 to speak with a blood cancer support professional, and access the latest information or supportive care services, or visit

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Note for producers: B-roll footage of blood donations available here.

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