Got a new tattoo? You can now donate plasma

Got a new tattoo? You can now donate plasma

Inked Aussies will no longer have to wait four months since their last tattoo to donate plasma, with Lifeblood today announcing the rule has been scrapped.

A study of 25,000 tattooed donors conducted by Lifeblood in partnership with the Kirby Institute at UNINSW found that those inked in Australian licensed tattoo parlours are safe to donate blood plasma.  

All donated plasma in Australia is tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C, but it takes time for a recent infection - that may be contracted from a contaminated needle - to become detectable. 

“While there is a link between needle procedures such as tattoos and blood born viruses, this new research demonstrates that those who received tattoos in Australian licensed or regulated premises are safe to donate,” said Lifeblood Donor Services Executive Director Cath Stone. 

This change means around 17,000 extra donors will now be able to donate plasma, boosting stocks by an estimated 50,000 donations each year.

Plasma is the yellow liquid that makes up more than half of what flows through our veins.  It transports cells, hormones, and vitamins around the body.

It’s used in hospitals to treat trauma and bleeding, but it's also used to make life-saving medicine for patients with immunodeficiency and auto-immune diseases, cancer, haemophilia, kidney conditions and burns.

“People with tattoos are perfect plasma donors because we know they’re not afraid of needles - one of the biggest barriers for new donors donating blood or plasma for the first time,” said Cath Stone. 

“Around 15 per cent of Australians think having a tattoo means you can’t donate blood at all, so we’re hopeful this change will help us collect the more than 15,000 plasma donations needed by Aussie patients each week.”

Australia is one of the first countries in the world to remove the waiting period, and Lifeblood researchers hope their work will pave the way for other countries to follow suit. 

Lifeblood is calling for new plasma donors as part of International Plasma Awareness week, which runs globally from 5 to 9 October, and highlights the role of plasma donors in saving and improving lives.