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Convoy of students flocks to give blood

Late last month, a convoy of Wairarapa teenagers flocked to the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park to make a life-giving donation.

On March 26 and 27, 30 senior students from Wairarapa College donated blood to the New Zealand Blood Service [NZBS], which sets up a clinic at the Copthorne in Masterton every two months.

WaiCol nurse Claire Marara, who accompanied the students to the clinic, said NZBS had paid a visit to the college to teach about the importance of blood donation – which inspired the students to hold out their own arms for the cause.

“None of them had given blood before,” she said.

“The students were apprehensive at first – but felt good afterwards.”

Marara said only 4 per cent of New Zealanders eligible to donate actually end up doing so.

With this in mind, she hoped the students will have “taken more interest”, and make donating blood a regular habit.

Marara also noted the recent change in NZBS eligibility criteria, lifting the ban on donation for those who lived in the UK from 1980 to 1996 – due to potential exposure to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or “Mad Cow Disease”.

This meant some WaiCol staff were also able to donate blood last month, and plan to do so in the future.

While visiting the college, Pia Alderson, donor relationship coordinator at NZBS, shared many interesting details with the students – including that one blood donation can save up to three lives.

Despite this, NZBS is always looking for people to donate, as red blood has a shelf life of just 35 days.

Student Estelle Kent said she was grateful for the experience, as it meant she could “help people and save lives”.

“I was really nervous about the whole process, as needles make me squeamish. But everyone at the clinic was super nice –they made the experience easy and made me feel safe, despite my fears.”

Alongside the importance of donating, another equally crucial aspect for the young donors the much-anticipated biscuit provided afterwards.

New blood or plasma donors can make their first donation any time after their 16th birthday and before their 71st birthday. More information is available at https://www.nzblood.co.nz/

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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