More than 40,000 Kiwis need donated blood to help save their life each year – an even more powerful statistic when we consider the likelihood of knowing one of these people. They may be a workmate, friend or even a member of your family….
As a nurse with the New Zealand Blood Service, I am very familiar with the ‘frequently asked questions’ and myths that Kiwis often wonder about giving blood – I get asked all sorts, whether while I am at work or the weekend BBQ.
While the act of giving blood is really a very simple process, behind the scenes it can be more complex and so in conjunction with World Blood Donor Day (Thursday 14 June), I am eager to share more information with families and get more Kiwis donating their red stuff and helping save lives.
Who can donate blood?
Not everyone is going to be able to donate blood. We have donor criteria in place to protect the wellbeing of our donors and our recipients, and ensure a safe blood supply.
Generally, you must be between the ages of 16 and 65, be in good health and weigh at least 50kgs. If you’ve recently had surgery, a tattoo, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or even if you’ve just been to the dentist, you may have to wait a day or months before donating.
The best thing to do is check your eligibility at www.nzblood.co.nz.
Why aren’t people who lived in the UK allowed to donate?
This rule only applies to people who lived in the UK, France or Ireland for 6 months or more between 1980 and 1996. It’s because of the potential risks associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease also known as ‘mad cow’ disease.
I used to be a donor until I had kids – we’re just too busy now!
If you are eager to donate but struggle to find the time, perhaps think about it as a nice break from the hustle and bustle instead… You get to come in and put your feet up for a few minutes, and you’ll get to enjoy your drink and biscuit in peace afterwards!
Many donor centres have early mornings and late nights, and we encourage appointments.
Plenty of people donate blood, do you really need me?
Actually, less than 4% of the New Zealand population donate blood regularly. It’s just enough, but our database always needs replenishing and so we are on the constant hunt for more donors. We are also seeing growing demand for some blood components like plasma, which means we need more donors of certain types.
But I am a fairly common blood type, so I won’t be in high demand right?
We are always in need of more donors, regardless. If you are a common blood type, we need you because there is likely to be more people in need of blood like yours, and if you are rare, than you are equally special! By becoming a blood donor you may also find out that you have a high plasma or platelet count, or can give to babies for instance.
Please, consider taking a moment to donate blood, and if you are unable to donate then share this information with someone in your family that may be able to instead. Even if you can only make it once a year, your single donation can be a great help to as many as three people in need.
Phone 0800 GIVE BLOOD or visit www.nzblood.co.nz to register.