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Blood safety and availability

Key facts

  • Of the 117.4 million blood donations collected globally, 42% of these are collected in high-income countries, home to 16% of the world’s population.
  • In low-income countries, up to 52% of blood transfusions are given to children under 5 years of age; whereas in high-income countries, the most frequently transfused patient group is over 65 years of age, accounting for up to 75% of all transfusions.
  • Based on samples of 1000 people, the blood donation rate is 32.6 donations in high-income countries, 15.1 donations in upper-middle-income countries, 8.1 donations in lower-middle-income countries and 4.4 donations in low-income countries.
  • An increase of 11.6 million blood donations from voluntary unpaid donors has been reported from 2008 to 2015. In total, 78 countries collect over 90% of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors; however, 58 countries collect more than 50% of their blood supply from family/replacement or paid donors.
  • Only 50 of 173 reporting countries produce plasma-derived medicinal products (PDMP) through the fractionation of plasma collected in the reporting country. A total of 83 countries reported that all PDMP are imported, 24 countries reported that no PDMP were used during the reporting period, and 16 countries did not respond to the question.

National blood policy and organization

Blood transfusion saves lives and improves health, but many patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood. Providing safe and adequate blood should be an integral part of every country’s national health care policy and infrastructure.

WHO recommends that all activities related to blood collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution be coordinated at the national level through effective organization and integrated blood supply networks. The national blood system should be governed by national blood policy and legislative framework to promote uniform implementation of standards and consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products.

In 2015, 71% of reporting countries, or 123 out of 173, had a national blood policy. Overall, 60% of reporting countries, or 104 out of 173, have specific legislation covering the safety and quality of blood transfusion, including:

  • 79% of high-income countries
  • 55% of middle-income countries
  • 45 % of low-income countries.

Blood supply

About 117.4 million blood donations are collected worldwide. 42% of these are collected in high-income countries, home to 16 % of the world’s population.

About 12 700 blood centres in 170 countries report collecting a total of 100 million donations. Collections at blood centres vary according to income group. The median annual donations per blood centre is 1 300 in the low-income countries, 4 100 in lower-middle-income countries and 8 500 in upper-middle-income countries, as compared to 23 000 in the high-income countries.

There is a marked difference in the level of access to blood between low- and high-income countries. The whole blood donation rate is an indicator for the general availability of blood in a country. The median blood donation rate in high-income countries is 32.6 donations per 1000 people. This compares with 15.1 donations per 1000 people in upper-middle-income countries, 8.1 donations per 1000 people in lower-middle-income countries, and 4.4 donations per 1000 people in low-income countries.

66 countries report collecting fewer than 10 donations per 1000 people. Of these, 37 countries are in the WHO African Region, 7 in the WHO Region of the Americas, 5 in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region, 4 in the WHO European Region, 7 in the WHO South-Eastern Asia Region, and 6 in the WHO Western Pacific Region. All are low- or middle-income countries.

Blood donors

Age and gender of blood donors

Data about the gender profile of blood donors show that globally 32% of blood donations are given by women, although this ranges widely. In 14 of the 119 reporting countries, less than 10% of donations are given by female donors.

The age profile of blood donors shows that, proportionally, more young people donate blood in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. Demographic information of blood donors is important for formulating and monitoring recruitment strategies.

Types of blood donors

There are 3 types of blood donors:

  • voluntary unpaid
  • family/replacement
  • paid.

An adequate and reliable supply of safe blood can be assured by a stable base of regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors. These donors are also the safest group of donors as the prevalence of bloodborne infections is lowest among this group. World Health Assembly resolution WHA63.12 urges all Member States to develop national blood systems based on voluntary unpaid donations and to work towards the goal of self-sufficiency.

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Data reported to WHO shows significant increases of voluntary unpaid blood donations in low- and middle-income countries:

  • An increase of 11.6 million blood donations from voluntary unpaid donors from 2008 to 2015 has been reported by 139 countries. The highest increase of voluntary unpaid blood donations is in the South-East Asian (83%) Region and the Americas (70%). The maximum increase in absolute numbers was reported in the South-East Asia region (5.9 million donations), followed by the Western Pacific Region (2.7 million donations) and African Region (1.1 million).
  • 78 countries collect more than 90% of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donations (35 high-income countries, 32 middle-income countries and 11 low-income countries). This includes 56 countries with 100% (or more than 99%) of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors.
  • In 58 countries, more than 50% of the blood supply is still dependent on family/replacement and paid blood donors (8 high-income countries, 36 middle-income countries and 14 low-income countries).
  • 19 countries report collecting paid donations in 2015, around 370 000 donations in total.

Blood screening

WHO recommends that all blood donations should be screened for infections prior to use. Screening for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis should be mandatory. Blood screening should be performed according to the quality system requirements. Of reporting countries, 13 are not able to screen all donated blood for 1 or more of the above infections.

Irregular supply of test kits is one of the most commonly reported barriers to screening. 99.8% of the donations in high-income countries and 99.9% in upper-middle-income countries are screened following basic quality procedures, as compared to 83.2% in lower-middle-income countries and 76.2 % in low-income countries. The prevalence of transfusion-transmissible infections in blood donations in high-income countries is considerably lower than in low- and middle-income countries (Table 1).

Table 1. Prevalence of transfusion-transmissible infections in blood donations (Median, Interquartile range (IQR)), by income groups

HIV HBV HCV Syphilis
High-income countries 0.002% 0.02% 0.02% 0.02%
(0.004% – 0.02%) (0.008% – 0.08%) (0.005% – 0.11%) (0.006% –0.14%)
Upper middle-income countries 0.10% 0.36% 0.24% 0.44%
(0.02% – 0.22%) (0.18% – 0.73%) (0.05% – 0.38%) (0.12% –1.09%)
Lower middle-income countries 0.14% 2.27% 0.39% 0.70%
(0.03% – 0.6944%) (0.80% – 4.87%) (0.18% –0.95%) (0.19% – 1.27%)
Low-income countries 0.86% 3.64% 0.93% 0.60%
(0.39% – 2.40%) (2.55% – 8.59%) (0.50% – 1.95%) (0.30% – 1.63%)

These differences reflects the variation in prevalence among population who are eligible to donate blood, the type of donors (such as voluntary unpaid blood donors from lower risk populations) and the effectiveness of the system of educating and selecting donors.

Blood processing

Blood collected in an anticoagulant can be stored and transfused to a patient in an unmodified state. This is known as ‘whole blood’ transfusion. However, blood can be used more effectively if it is processed into components, such as red cell concentrates, platelet concentrates, plasma and cryoprecipitate. In this way, it can meet the needs of more than one patient.

The capacity to provide patients with the different blood components they require is still limited in low-income countries: 58% of the blood collected in low-income countries is separated into components, 66% in lower-middle-income countries, 97% in upper-middle-income countries, and 91% in high-income countries.

Supply of plasma-derived medicinal products (PDMP)

World Health Assembly resolution WHA63.12 urges Member States to establish, implement and support nationally-coordinated, efficiently-managed and sustainable blood and plasma programmes according to the availability of resources, with the aim of achieving self-sufficiency. It is the responsibility of individual governments to ensure sufficient and equitable supply of plasma-derived medicinal products, namely immunoglobulins and coagulation factors, which are needed to prevent and treat a variety of serious conditions that occur worldwide.

Only 50 of 173 reporting countries produce plasma-derived medicinal products (PDMP) through the fractionation of plasma collected in the reporting country. A total of 83 countries reported that all PDMP are imported, 24 countries reported that no PDMP were used during the reporting period, and 16 countries did not respond to the question.

Around 16.1 million litres of plasma from 41 reporting countries was fractionated for the production of PDMP during the year. This includes around 36% of plasma recovered from the whole blood donations.

Clinical use of blood

Unnecessary transfusions and unsafe transfusion practices expose patients to the risk of serious adverse transfusion reactions and transfusion-transmissible infections. Unnecessary transfusions also reduce the availability of blood products for patients who are in need.

WHO recommends the development of systems, such as hospitals transfusion committees and haemovigilance, to monitor and improve the safety of transfusion processes. In this regard:

  • 124 countries have national guidelines on the appropriate clinical use of blood: 32 countries in the African region (71% of reporting countries in the region), 17 in the Americas (50 %), 14 in the Eastern Mediterranean (74 %), 34 in Europe (83%), 10 in the South East Asia (91%), and 17 in the Western Pacific (74%).
  • Transfusion committees are present in 45 % of the hospitals performing transfusions: 12 % of hospitals performing transfusion in the African region have a transfusion committee, 17 % in the Americas, 57% in the Eastern Mediterranean, 68% in Europe, 79% in South-East Asia and 40% in the Western Pacific.
  • Systems for reporting adverse transfusion events are present in 34 % of hospitals in the African region, 81% in the Americas, 64% in the Eastern Mediterranean, 86% in Europe, 80% in South East Asia and 38% in the Western Pacific.
  • 46% of reporting countries have a haemovigilance system. The European region has the highest percentage of countries with haemovigilance systems (76%), followed by the Eastern Mediterranean (53%), the Western Pacific (48%), Africa (38%), South-East Asia (36%), and the Americas (21%).

Blood transfusions

There are great variations between countries in terms of the age distribution of transfused patients. For example, in the high-income countries, the most frequently transfused patient group is over 65 years of age, which accounts for up to 75% of all transfusions. In the low-income countries, up to 52% of transfusions are for children under the age of 5 years.

In high-income countries, transfusion is most commonly used for supportive care in cardiovascular surgery, transplant surgery, massive trauma, and therapy for solid and haematological malignancies. In low- and middle-income countries it is used more often to manage pregnancy-related complications and severe childhood anaemia.

WHO response

The risk of transmission of serious infections, including HIV and hepatitis, through unsafe blood and chronic blood shortages brought global attention to the importance of blood safety and availability. With the goal of ensuring universal access to safe blood and blood products, WHO has been at the forefront to improve blood safety and availability, and recommends the following integrated strategy for blood safety and availability:

  • Establishment of a national blood system with well-organized and coordinated blood transfusion services, effective evidence-based and ethical national blood policies, and legislation and regulation, that can provide sufficient and timely supplies of safe blood and blood products to meet the transfusion needs of all patients.
  • Collection of blood, plasma and other blood components from low-risk, regular, voluntary unpaid donors through the strengthening of donation systems, and effective donor management, including care and counselling.
  • Quality-assured screening of all donated blood for transfusion-transmissible infections, including HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis, confirmatory testing of the results of all donors screen-reactive for infection markers, blood grouping and compatibility testing, and systems for processing blood into blood products (blood components for transfusion and plasma derived-medicinal products), as appropriate, to meet health care needs.
  • Rational use of blood and blood products to reduce unnecessary transfusions and minimize the risks associated with transfusion, the use of alternatives to transfusion where possible, and safe and good clinical transfusion practices, including patient blood management.
  • Step-wise implementation of effective quality systems, including quality management, standards, good manufacturing practices, documentation, training of all staff, and quality assessment.

Through its Blood and Transfusion Safety programme, WHO supports countries in developing national blood systems to ensure timely access to safe and sufficient supplies of blood and blood products and good transfusion practices to meet the patients’ needs. The programme provides policy guidance and technical assistance to countries for ensuring universal access to safe blood and blood products and work towards self-sufficiency in safe blood and blood products based on voluntary unpaid blood donation to achieve universal health coverage.

*Data source: This fact sheet is based on the data obtained through the WHO Global Database on Blood Safety (GDBS) for the year 2015 which were reported by 139 countries. To give a more complete overview of the global situation, data for the year 2014 have been used from 17 countries and data for the year 2013 have been used from 17 countries, where current data are not available. Overall, responses received from 173 countries cover 98.03% of the world’s population.

How to Donate Blood for Money and Earn up to $500 per Month

Did you know that donated blood is usually sold? Although most blood banks are nonprofits, the Red Cross and others often sell donated blood. The Red Cross alone sells about $2 billion worth of blood each year. Part of the money these organizations gain from selling blood is used to cover costs associated with blood testing and processing, as well as employee salaries.

Every time you donate, you give roughly one pint of blood. A single pint of blood sells for $180 to $300. You don’t have to give your blood away just to let a company get paid instead of you — at many blood banks, you can ask to receive payment for the blood you donate. Payments range from $10 to $60 per donation.

Selling your blood or plasma is not just a way to earn a little side income. People all over the world rely on the generosity of plasma donors whose valuable plasma proteins treat rare, chronic diseases. This article explains where to go, how to donate blood for money, how much you can get paid, what it’s like to give blood, whether blood donation money is considered taxable income, and more.

Table of Contents

How Much Money Can You Earn Donating?

People usually talk about donating blood, but it’s what’s in your blood that matters: plasma. When you donate, it’s the plasma that most blood banks want. Plasma is about 90% water, while the other 10% is made up of salts, enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. You can legally donate plasma as often as twice per week, but some blood banks may have a stricter limit.

Prices for donating plasma vary. You can generally expect to receive about $30 per donation at most blood banks, but payments may range anywhere from $10 to $60 per donation. Blood banks usually pay you right after you donate blood, either via cash or prepaid debit card.

You can’t make donating plasma a full-time job, but it can be a reliable source of side income. If you find a blood bank in your area that pays $60 per donation and allows you to donate twice per week, you could earn up to about $500 per month, or about $6,000 per year. However, given the payment range and differing policies on donation frequency, it’s safer to assume you may earn around $80 to $240 per month.

All blood types (A, B, AB, and O) are paid the same amount, with one exception: If you have Rh-negative blood, you may be paid more than Rh-positive donors, since Rh-negative blood is rarer than Rh-positive blood.

The consensus from blood banks is that since you’re “donating,” any compensation you earn isn’t taxable income. If your donations were considered taxable, the blood bank would need to get your Social Security number and send you a W-9. As long as this doesn’t happen, you can be sure the income is not taxable.

Who’s Eligible to Donate Blood?

If you are between the ages of 18 and 65 and weigh more than 110 pounds (see our article to find out where you can weigh yourself for free), you’ve met the first two requirements for donating blood. You’ll also need to be in generally good health and will have to do some sort of physical examination at the blood bank before your first donation. Requirements vary slightly by state and by donation center.

  1. Have or have had certain medical conditions:
    • those who are HIV-positive
    • those who have had hepatitis after their 11th birthday
    • those who have had babesiosis or Chagas disease
    • those who have risk factors for or a blood relative with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  2. Take or have taken certain medications:
    • those who take a blood clotter
    • those who have taken etretinate (Tegison) for psoriasis
    • those who take isotretinoin, a drug used to treat severe acne, commonly referred to as Accutane, Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Myorisan, or Zenatane.
    • those who have ever had drug injections not prescribed by a doctor (think illegal drugs or steroids)
  3. Have certain travel experiences:
    • those who have visited a malaria-risk country recently (See the this page of the CDC website for specific details if you have traveled or lived in a malaria-risk country.)
    • those who have received a blood transfusion in the UK or France between 1980 and the present
    • those who have spent significant time outside of the country recently
  4. Fall into one of these other categories:
    • those who have exchanged sex for money or drugs
    • those who have gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last 12 months (This rule may not apply in all states.)

Keep in mind that there are some potential disadvantages to blood donation including bruising, continued bleeding, physical weakness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and pain. For may donors and sellers, the side effects of donation are mild and are outweighed by the opportunity to help people (and, in some cases, make a little money). However, before donating, it’s best to consider your own well-being and whether you have had particularly strong side effects after having blood drawn in the past.

Where to Donate Blood for Money

There are more than 400 licensed and certified plasma collection centers located in the United States. Each center may have slightly different rules about age requirements and additional medical requirements, such as brief physical exams or drug tests. Please note: Not all plasma donation centers offer compensation to donors. See our article for the list of plasma donation centers near you.

What to Expect When Donating Blood for Money

Typically, you do not need an appointment to donate plasma. You will have to bring the following with you:

  • Current photo I.D.
  • Social Security or Border Crossing ID
  • Proof of local address

Once you arrive, you’ll go through the following sequence of events:

  1. A donation center associate will greet you and check your identification. If it is your first visit, you will receive a physical examination from a medical professional.
  2. A technician will take a blood sample from your finger.
  3. You’ll complete a donor history questionnaire.
  4. If you’re determined eligible to donate plasma, you’ll be taken to the donation area.
  5. A technician will prepare your arm by wiping it with antiseptic. Then, he or she will insert the needle and start drawing blood. When the needle is inserted, you may feel some initial discomfort. But once the needle is in, you shouldn’t feel any pain.
  6. While the blood is drawn, plasma is separated from other blood components, and red blood cells will be returned to your body. The whole process takes two hours on your first visit and approximately an hour and a half for subsequent visits.
  7. After completing a successful donation, you’ll receive compensation for your time. The amount and form of compensation will vary by agency and individual donation center, but donors are typically paid with a prepaid, reloadable card.

Before you head to your appointment, you should eat a healthy meal (stay away from too many fats) and drink two extra glassfuls of water. Donating can leave you more susceptible to dehydration.

Right after your donation, you may feel a bit dizzy. Make sure to eat some food, drink plenty of water, and relax for a bit. Most donation centers will offer doughnuts, cookies, juice, water, and other treats to help you re-energize. Leave your bandage on for at least four or five hours after your blood draw. If your arm is a bit sore, you can take acetaminophen or ice the area. You should feel completely normal in a day or two, or even sooner.

In Summary

Now you know how to donate blood for money. If you’re eligible, donating plasma can be a great way to earn a little side income and feel like you’re helping people at the same time. You can earn up to about $500 per month selling plasma, but will more typically earn between $80 and $240 per month. But, please note, not all plasma donation centers compensate donors. For example, the Red Cross relies solely on volunteers. You can find donation centers nationwide, with KEDPlasma, CSL Plasma, and BioLife Plasma being some of the biggest. Many companies have multiple locations and work in multiple states.

For more information on medical donations, see our articles on how much you can get paid for donating sperm, donating eggs, and donating hair.

Find a donor centre

You can donate blood at any of our 90-plus permanent donor centres and mobile donor centres across Australia.

View our biggest donor centres below or find a donor centre in your area.

Collins Street, Melbourne

Level 1, 367 Collins St,
Melbourne, Victoria

Edward Street, Brisbane

288 Edward St,
Brisbane, Queensland

Hunter Street, Sydney

Level 3, 9 Hunter Street,
Sydney NSW

William Street, Perth

Level 1, 140 William St,
Perth, WA

Regent Arcade, Adelaide

Level 1, Regent Arcade, Grenfell St,
Adelaide, SA

Scaturchio Street, Darwin

17 Scaturchio Street,
Casuarina, NT

Dann Close, Canberra

3 Dann Close,
Garran, ACT

Bathurst Street, Hobart

Level 1, 71 Bathurst Street,
Hobart, TAS


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Your donation can save three lives

One in three of all the people you know – family, friends and workmates – will need a blood donation. Yours could be the one that saves their life.

Why not start today? The sooner you start, the more people you’ll help!

Jo’s story

Jo owes his life to countless generous blood donors. After being diagnosed with bladder cancer at age two, he needed red cells, plasma and platelets to survive.

Mika’s story

Mika needs Intragam, made from plasma, every few weeks for his blood disorder. He calls it his ‘super powers’ because after his treatment he’s strong enough to walk.

Jacob’s story

After a serious car accident, Jacob needed over 36 litres of blood to survive.

Now, he is alive and skydiving. As a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the donors who saved his life, Jacob is a dedicated blood donor.

Rosanne’s story

Rosanne is in remission from leukaemia thanks to just a handful of special blood donors. Her rare blood type meant less than five donors in Australia could donate red cells and platelets to help save her life.

Rosanne is now a busy young woman who loves art and is studying photography.

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