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The Bay of Giving Plenty

NEWS RELEASE 14 June 2006
Embargoed until 6am, 14 June 2006

The Bay of Giving Plenty

Tauranga is the blood donation capital of New Zealand.

Figures released by the New Zealand Blood Service to mark World Blood Donor Day show that the Tauranga Donor Centre has the most active blood donors in the country, with Dunedin and Hamilton rounding out the top three.

Tauranga has a small catchment area containing just 2% of New Zealand’s eligible donors, but 9% of those people have donated blood in the past two years, almost double the national average.

Dunedin, with 4.5% of the nation’s eligible donors, has mobilised 7.1% of those people to donate, while Hamilton has generated donations from 6.9% of its donor population – at 14.6%, the country’s second largest catchment area.

Auckland has 23% of the eligible donor population, far and away the highest, and is the 4th best region in generating donations. Some 6.6% of Auckland’s eligible donors have given blood in the past 24 months, generating the largest volume of whole blood stocks.

NZBS CEO Dr Graeme Benny says less than 5% of New Zealanders give blood, but a staggering 80% of Kiwis will need blood or blood products during their lifetime.

“Tauranga is a jewel in the area we’ve re-named the Bay of Giving Plenty,” Dr Benny said. “If other regions could match their community spirit the Blood Service would spend less time chasing potential donors and more time improving our level of service.”

Every week the NZBS needs to collect more than 3,000 whole blood donations to meet the needs of patients throughout New Zealand. The service generally has just enough blood stocks to meet demand and that situation is becoming dire as the number of regular donors continues to fall.

According to Dr Benny, “In the last 12 months around 23,665 donors were recruited and 31,805 were lost which is an overall loss of more than 8,000 donors, a concerning increase from the average churn in 2005 of 5000 lost donors.”

“Stocks of key blood components often fall to levels that require the blood to be shifted around the country to ensure product is available in every area. Every day is a challenge,” Dr Benny said.

Areas with the most room for improvement in terms of mobilising its eligible donors are Manukau and Auckland’s North Shore.

Manukau has 7.5% of the country’s eligible donors – the fifth-largest in the country – but only 2% of those people have donated in the past two years while just 2.6% of North Shore’s donor base, the 7th largest at 5.1%, rolls up its sleeves to give blood.

Dr Benny says the non-profit organisation has tried a number of tactics to lift donor numbers in Manukau and the North Shore, including opening new donor centres in each area.

“We opened a state-of-the-art centre in Manukau last year and North Shore’s new facility was only launched three week’s ago,” Dr Benny said. “We’re trying to pull down every barrier so that the donation experience is simple and convenient.”

The NZBS has also just implemented a pilot donor relationship management system in Christchurch to communicate more effectively with its regular donors.

New Zealanders change addresses more often than any developed country in the world and staying in touch with donors is difficult.

“It’s more efficient and effective to retain donors than it is to recruit new ones, so our pilot donor relationship management programme in Canterbury is vital to improving our retention rate,” Dr Benny said.

The NZBS is also desperate to mobilise the younger generation of donor. Latest NZBS statistics show that there are significantly more donors in the 40-59 year age bracket than any other age group, accounting for a total of 42% of all blood donations. The 20-39 year age group currently accounts for 33% of all donations while the <20 age group accounts for 16% of all donations.

The need for blood spans many health areas, including disease treatment (such as cancer, haemophilia and immuno-deficient patients), surgical procedures (from emergency surgery through to elective surgery), pregnancy complications (during and after delivery) and dealing with burns and trauma victims.

"Name just about any area of medicine and on any given day they will almost certainly be using blood products,” Dr Benny said. “From the Accident & Emergency rooms through all types of surgery to the neonatal units and beyond, often we only have just enough blood to meet demand.”

ENDS

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