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Blood donations set to pump up

Wairarapa’s blood donors can expect a boost to their ranks at the region’s next donation day, thanks to the lifting of the ‘mad cow’ restriction [otherwise known as vCJD blood donation restriction], which has been in place since 2000.

The restriction was a precautionary measure in response to a ‘mad cow’ disease outbreak in the United Kingdom, France, or the Republic of Ireland, and prevented people who had lived in those countries between 1980 and 1996 for six months or more from donating blood or plasma.

“I think the uplift of the restriction is going to have a great impact, and it’s all positive,” Sarah Field, Blood Service NZ team leader for Wellington, said.

The next donation day for Wairarapa is in Masterton next week, on Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 at the Copthorne Hotel from the service’s mobile unit, and people can book a slot via the app or the website.

The app has a “particularly awesome feature”, Field said.

“After you have donated blood, when your blood has gone on to save a life, you get a notification,” she explained.

“So you could be sitting there on a Friday morning, having a cup of tea, and you get a little pop-up on your phone to say, ‘Your blood has been given on this day and gone on to save a life’. And it’s a genuine notification.

“It’s happened to me, and it is an amazing feeling.”

The importance of blood donations cannot be overstated, Field said.

“If we didn’t have people donating blood, then literally a lot of people would die,” she said.

“There is nothing that can replace it. If somebody is bleeding, they need blood, and the only thing we can give them is blood.”

Donated blood is kept for 35 days, and a person can donate once every three months.

Field said the New Zealand Blood Service has never got to the point where blood stocks have run out, but it has occasionally launched appeals for specific blood types, most recently for O negative, which “is our universal blood and can go to everybody”.

“So if you were in a car accident and you needed blood right now to save your life, then they’ll give you O negative while they’re blood typing you, and then you’ll be given type-specific.”

As well as coordinating the blood drives in Masterton, Field is in the “very, very early stages” of working with Heartland Services in South Wairarapa, exploring opportunities to establish a blood drive in Martinborough.

“We’ve got a venue sorted and are now gauging the interest from that rural community – we need around 90 people signed up to donate for it to go ahead,” she said.

“We are here to support the New Zealand Blood Service,” Pip Maynard, adult and community education facilitator and Heartland Service support, said.

She confirmed people in the community have expressed interest in a Martinborough-based donation option “as they can’t get to Masterton or Wellington to give blood”, she said.

“It would provide access [to donation opportunities] not only for our rural community but for those in Featherston, Martinborough, and Greytown as well.”

To book a donation slot or download the app, visit www.nzblood.co.nz

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