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Thank You New Zealand - It’s in our Blood

12th June 2013
It’s in our Blood
Thank You New Zealand
World Blood Donor – Friday 14th June 2013

This World Blood Donor Day the New Zealand Blood Service is saying ‘Thank You New Zealand’.

The generosity of Kiwis has made it possible for New Zealand to be the only country in the world, that we are aware of, to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency status, as defined by the World Health Organisation.

“Self-sufficiency is considered the ‘gold standard’ by the World Health Organisation and is the cornerstone of ensuring a safe and certain blood supply for our health service.” explains Paul Hayes, Marketing and Communications Manager for the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS).

“New Zealand is one of very few countries in the world that can meet the needs of its own population for blood and blood products through 100 per cent voluntary, non-remunerated donors. This means that everyone in New Zealand has equal access to a safe and certain supply of blood and blood products when they need it most. The ability to meet our own needs for plasma and plasma-derived products is of particular significance, as it is a key barrier towards self-sufficiency for many countries.

“Unpaid voluntary donors are the lifeblood of The New Zealand Blood Service. While permitted in some countries, paid-for-donations are recognised by the World Health Organisation to have the potential to compromise safety. It is only through the ongoing support of community-minded donors that future generations of Kiwis will be able to enjoy a safe and certain supply of blood and blood products. ”

Self-sufficiency requires daily management and long-term strategic planning. The NZBS manages blood donations based on blood type, location and timing to ensure ‘every drop counts’, matching donations to the patient’s needs. In practice this means some donors may be asked to donate less often based on their blood type and location. For example, O- blood donors are needed to donate frequently because of its use in emergency settings; while others with more uncommon blood types (AB and B donors), while still vitally important, may be required to donate less often.

“Adopting a flexible approach to donating and using the appointment booking system to schedule donations, enables The Service and its donors to work together to maintain self-sufficiency and ensure that every donation has the potential to save a life.

“Self-sufficiency is an achievement that all New Zealanders should be proud of. This World Blood Donor Day say ‘thank you’ to a donor and celebrate New Zealand’s giving nature because it makes access to a safe and certain blood supply for all a reality.”

Those interested in becoming a donor should first visit www.nzblood.co.nz or phone 0800 GIVE BLOOD for more information about registering and making an appointment.

-ends-

Notes to editors

What is self-sufficiency?
Self-sufficiency means that a country can safely and swiftly meet the needs of their population for blood and blood products through voluntary, non-remunerated donations made within their own country.

NZ’s self-sufficiency status means:
A safe supply of blood and blood products is available when you need it
Everyone has equal access
Donors are 100% voluntary and non-remunerated
Our health service’s needs are met through donations made within NZ

As defined by the World Health Organisation, NZ is entirely self-sufficient in six key types of blood and blood products:
• Whole blood / red cells - Used for treatment of people with: chronic anaemia resulting from disorders such as kidney failure or cancers; and acute blood loss as a result of trauma or surgery
• Platelets - Used to support patients undergoing treatment for some blood diseases and cancer and also to control bleeding following cardiac surgery and trauma.
• Plasma for transfusion - Used to control bleeding in patients following trauma or transplantation.
• Plasma derived clotting factor VIII - Treatment of Haemophilia A
• Polyvant human immunoglobulin solutions - Used for treatment of people with immune deficiencies or in treatment of a range of diseases where the patient’s immune system is compromised.
• Human albumin solutions – Used for volume expansion and the treatment of burns

For developed nations like New Zealand, the biggest current challenge to self-sufficiency is the growing demand for plasma and plasma derived products. Paid plasma collection mainly occurs in Germany and the United States. As international demands continue to increase, in the long term it is likely to become increasingly difficult to meet growing global demands. Self-sufficiency is central to ensuring on-going access to plasma products for those people who need them.
About the New Zealand Blood Service:
The New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) in a not-for-profit Crown entity responsible for the collection, processing, testing and storage and distribution of all blood and blood products in New Zealand.

We rely on voluntary and non-remunerated blood donations from individuals around the country in order to provide a constant supply of precious blood and blood products used by our health services to save thousands of lives.

• The need for donors is constant – we must collect around 3,000 donations every week nationally and are always working to maintain and grow our register of donors to make this possible.
• In New Zealand, around 42,000 people need donated blood every year.
• There is no alternative for patients in need of blood or blood products – blood donors saves lives.
• Less than 4% of eligible New Zealanders currently donate blood, around 90,000.

World Blood Donor Day, celebrated in New Zealand and internationally on Friday 14 June, is our most important annual campaign to remind New Zealanders of the importance of donating blood and to celebrate the contribution they make to a self-sufficient blood service.


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