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Give The Gift Of Life This Xmas

Give The Gift Of Life This Xmas

The New Zealand Blood Service is after presence this Christmas - the presence of blood donors.

NZBS Chief Executive Dr Graeme Benny says blood stocks at this time of the year can drop by up to 10 per cent as Kiwis get wrapped up in Christmas and New Year festivities.

"It's a busy time of year and the number of public holidays and the exodus from the major centres exacerbates the decline in blood stocks. Unfortunately, that drop is generally coupled with a greater need for blood; we often see a higher rate of people seriously injured in car accidents for instance."

The NZBS needs to collect more than 3,000 whole blood donations each week to ensure hospital patients receive the treatment, often life-saving, they need.

In New Zealand, 30% of blood is used for accidents and emergencies, Cardiothoracic use is 15%, general surgery including orthopaedics uses 16%, another 16% Is used for general medicine, 6% for obstetrics & gynaecology, and the remainder for other clinical uses*. Because blood can be split into its constituent parts, one donation can help several people in different ways.

Only 5% of the eligible population actively donate blood and new donors are needed all over the country. Anyone aged between 16 - 60 years of age, in good health and who weighs over 50kg is encouraged to help, initially by checking their eligibility by calling 0800 GIVE BLOOD or going on-line at

Dr Benny says a constant supply of blood and blood products is crucial because the products have a limited shelf life. Platelets, for instance, play a vital role in the treatment of leukaemia and other cancer-related illnesses, but only have a shelf life of five days.

"Hospital demand for blood is constant," Dr Benny said. "The blood collected is used for a wide range of treatments from accidents and emergencies to routine surgery and cancer treatment.

"We don't need to swamp our donor centres, but we are concerned about the traditional decline in blood stocks and we're asking all regular donors, as well as lapsed donors and potential newcomers, to roll up their sleeves and give blood to help save lives. It could be the greatest gift they ever give at Christmas."

* Data based on use of whole blood in Auckland DHB

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