Research to improve blood safety

Research to improve blood safety

August was a month of publications and announcements highlighting Lifeblood’s ongoing research and collaborations to improve donor and product safety.

The Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney announced it has been awarded an almost $1.5 million Partnership Grant by the National Health and Medical Council to continue and enhance its long-term collaboration with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood on research aimed at protecting Australia’s blood supply.

Maintaining a safe and sufficient blood supply is an essential element of a functioning health system. Research is required to respond to changes in epidemiology and risk, whilst ensuring that donor eligibility criteria are as inclusive as possible, and the call for blood specimens to contribute to surveillance of emerging and re-emerging disease.

“Lifeblood has a long history of successful collaboration with the Kirby Institute that has resulted in significant changes such as changing our tattoo restrictions and removing the UK geographical deferral. It is wonderful to continue this work through the Partnership grant” says Dr Veronica Hoad, Public Health Specialist, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

>Veronica, and the Donor and Product Safety Policy team, led by Dr Iain Gosbell, ensure the safety of our donors and the recipients of their donations through development of policy and guidelines, informed by ongoing research.

Veronica is lead and co-author on four articles published in August on donor and product safety. These include the prevalence of donation eligibility in Australia, the impact of removal of the UK donor deferral for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the short and long term impacts of plasmapheresis donation, and the perceived risk of HIV transmission by blood transfusion.

“Our UK donor deferral post implementation evaluation demonstrates the positive outcome from a policy change based on scientific evidence,” says Veronica. “Donor research is important as we need to maximise eligibility and supply whilst minimising risks to both donors and patients. Our research demonstrates significant misconceptions in our eligibility criteria can prevent thousands of people from donating blood if they mistakenly believe they are ineligible.”


Kirby Institute and Lifeblood partnership receives NHMRC funds | Kirby Institute (

A donor safety evidence literature review of the short- and long-term effects of plasmapheresis.

Hoad VC, Castrén J, Norda R, Pink J.Vox Sang. 2023 Aug 29. doi: 10.1111/vox.13512. Online ahead of print.PMID:37641582

Removal of UK-donor deferral for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: A large donation gain in Australia.

Hoad VC, Seed CR, Kiely P, Styles CE, McManus H, Law M, Kaldor J, Gosbell IB.Vox Sang. 2023 Aug 11. doi: 10.1111/vox.13510. Online ahead of print.PMID:37563946

Prevalence of blood donation eligibility in Australia: A population survey.

Hoad V, Haire B, Masser B, Kaldor J, Heywood A, Thorpe R, McManus H, McGregor S.Transfusion. 2023 Aug;63(8):1519-1527. doi: 10.1111/trf.17474. Epub 2023 Jul 18.PMID:37464879

<Perceived risk of HIV transmission by blood transfusion among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) in Australia.

Gahan L, Seed CR, Hammoud MA, Prestage G, Hoad VC, Kaldor JM.Transfusion. 2023 Aug;63(8):1528-1537. doi: 10.1111/trf.17456. Epub 2023 Jun 10.PMID:37300281