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Importance Of Donating Blood

MEDIA RELEASE, April 7, 2000

Importance Of Donating Blood

Health Minister Annette King said today it was doubly important New Zealanders committed to the World Health Organisation's "Safe Blood Begins With Me" campaign.

"It is important because New Zealand needs thousands of new donors. But it is also important because the WHO slogan is a powerful reminder to people that if they want to give blood, the gift of life, they have to keep themselves healthy," she said.

Mrs King was today visiting the New Zealand Blood Service southern region facility in Christchurch to support World Health Day. Several secondary school students also visited the facility today to donate blood, and also on hand to thank donors was Major Andrew Dunn, a military doctor whose life was saved by New Zealand blood donors. Major Dunn, who suffered from non-Hodgkins Lymphona, will shortly leave for a tour of duty in East Timor.

Mrs King said the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand Blood Service were both backing the WHO "safe blood" campaign.

"New Zealand is certainly better off than many other countries in terms of its supply of safe blood, but we still need many, many more donors."

The "safety first" donor policy adopted on February 17 (which bans donors who spent more than six months in total in Britain from 1980 to 1996) was essential to protect the safety of New Zealand's blood supply, she said.

"But the policy means some 12,000 new donors have to be found. The response has been excellent in the past few weeks, with more than 2500 new donors. I hope World Health Day, and the inspiration from stories like Major Dunn's, will help persuade many more people to come forward."

ENDS



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