Blood supplies

Current red cell supply levels

Updated 7:00am (AEST), 20 May 2024

Today's 'Ok' could be tomorrow's 'Very low'. Donate now to keep supplies steady.

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Blood type fast facts

Illustration of three people holding blood type letters B, O and A
There are 8 main blood types

Your blood type is a combination of your ABO type (A, B, AB or O) and your Rh group (positive or negative).

The types are: O positive, O negative, A positive, A negative, B positive, B negative, AB positive and AB negative.

Find out more about blood types
illustration of three people
Your blood type affects what type you can receive

Someone who is AB positive can receive red cells from a donor of any other blood type, but someone who is O negative can only have the same type.

That’s why Lifeblood needs donors of all blood types to help all patients.

See why blood types are important
Lady holding a blue question mark
Find out your blood type

Simply donate blood or plasma and we’ll tell you your blood type.

Whether you’re a chirpy B positive, or a rare and elusive AB negative, we’ll love you and your donations just the same.

Find out your blood type

FAQs about Lifeblood's red cell supplies

How do you know how much blood you need in stock at Lifeblood?

We have a dedicated team that forecasts how many blood products (including red cells, plasma and platelets) will be needed by hospitals. The team uses advanced modelling to work out how many donations we need across the country to meet demand.

There are some blood types that are most in demand. Hospitals need to have O negative red cells in their blood banks because they can be given to anyone of any blood type in emergencies.

How do I find out my blood type?

Simple: donate blood or plasma. We’ll test for your blood type when we do our safety testing and tell you in an email.

It looks like there’s enough blood of my type. Should I donate?

Yes! Every day, red blood cells of every type are ordered and used by hospitals. Donated red cells can’t be kept at Lifeblood forever. So, we always need more people to donate.

Alternatively, consider donating plasma. It’s a type of blood donation with 18 life-giving uses.

No matter what, we always need more donations — of every type.

What are red cells?

Red cells are the oxygen-carrying cells that give blood its red colour and are vital for our health. Each blood donation is actually separated into three parts: red cells, plasma and platelets (that’s how one donation can save up to three lives!). Around 34% of donated red cells are used to help patients with cancer and blood diseases.

How long can blood supplies be stored?

Every blood donation is separated into three parts: red cells, platelets and plasma. You can also donate plasma or platelets by themselves.

None of them last forever and all have to be used within a certain time of being donated.

Red cells last for up to 42 days once they’re donated. That includes the time spent being processed and tested in our processing centres, transported to donor centres, and in hospital blood banks ready to be used.

Plasma lasts up to a year when frozen, but is always in demand, and platelets only last 7 days.

Which blood types are needed most?

Donations of all blood types are needed all the time. Sometimes a different kind of donation, like plasma, is needed more than blood (red cells) for certain blood types at particular times, or in different places.

What can I do to help blood supplies?

There are plenty of ways to help keep blood supplies steady, but they really boil down to two things: donate or advocate.

If you are asked to donate — whether it’s by advertising, a social media post, a mate at a barbeque, a Lifeblood Team, or a news story — consider giving if you can.

You can also follow our social media @lifebloodau to get updates on any urgent calls for blood.

Or, if you’re not able to donate, you can still advocate by spreading the word in person, at work or on social media about the need for donations.