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"Blood Donors Saved Our Lives!"

Media Release 1 July 2001

Lifesaving Stories and Heartfelt Thanks For Donors During 'National Blood Donor Week' -- 1-7 July

This heartfelt message, and people whose lives or family members have been saved by Blood Donors, will soon be on billboards around New Zealand as part of National Blood Donor Week - July 1-7. They represent the thousands of people who receive life-saving transfusions every year.

Karaka's Joshua Hare, 7, was getting quieter and more lethargic by the minute, according to his parents Darryn and Susanne. They actually wondered whether he had leukaemia, he was so tired and pale. Tests on Joshua confirmed they were right.

"They said if we had not brought him into Starship on the Monday, he could have died within a week of a heart attack because he was so anaemic. But when he got his 'go-go juice' (a transfusion), he perked right up. It was remarkable to see. Joshua is alive because of the fantastic treatment he got at Starship and because safe blood was available. If no one had donated, we would not have our little boy today. Don't ever tell me that donating blood doesn't matter, because it does!" said Susanne.

Christchurch's Ashley Fitzgibbon can't thank Donors enough ... because he's only 13 months old. Ashley had six inter-uterine transfusions while still in mum Michelle's womb to combat "Rhesus Disease" - a condition where the mum's antibodies attack the baby's blood.

"Without the transfusions, we would not have Ashley. We are so thankful to blood Donors, especially the one who was called in for Ashley's transfusions because his 'special blood' matched ours. I've never met this Donor because of privacy rules, but I will thank him every day for the rest of my life," said Michelle.

If Brian Simmons were to thank every Donor who helped save his life, it would take him nearly four hours at the rate of one Donor every minute.

Exactly one year ago, the keen fisherman had just berthed his 10-metre launch at Auckland's Sandspit Wharf. He slipped and was impaled on a pipe-like stanchion which travelled 15cm into his side, savaging his liver. The odds of him surviving were not good, as blood was literally flowing out of him. It took the blood from more than 230 Donors to keep the Algies Bay man alive. Remembering what Donors did for his family still chokes him up.

"My daughter said that they just kept carrying blood into the operating theatre. At first, she thought it was for all the patients, but it was all for me... Before my accident, I guess I took blood for granted like most people do. Never again. Now we are the biggest Blood Service boosters in the country. And we can never repay what all those Donors have done for us. The best I can do is say 'thank you, thank you so much'. And I want to encourage people who haven't donated to do so if you can. Your blood really will save someone's life," said Brian.

Billboards donated by Look Outdoor and Phantom featuring Brian and his wife Wendy, Joshua, and Ashley and his Mum Michelle will be up in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Christchurch and Dunedin as part of National Blood Donor Week. Blood Donor Centres across the country also will be holding special events for Donors.

"We want to say 'thank you' to the 120,000 active Donors right throughout New Zealand, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have donated in the past. We hope the billboards will do two things. First, at least in a small way let Donors know how grateful we are for their gift. Second, remind all New Zealanders that blood truly is 'the gift of life', and that we need more Donors," said Tony Smith, NZBS National Donor Manager.

More than 80% of New Zealanders will need blood or blood products during their lifetime, yet only 5% donate annually.

Blood is most commonly used by cancer patients, victims of burns and trauma, those who've undergone routine surgery, and new mums and their babies.

For more information about donating, people can ring 0800 GIVEBLOOD (0800 448 325).


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