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Walk Marks National Blood Donor Week

Health Minister Annette King says New Zealand is closer to its goal of having the best blood service in the world, but it is still a major challenge to recruit and retain new donors.

Mrs King today launched National Blood Donor Week by speaking at a special guided walk through the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. The walk was one of a number organised by the New Zealand Blood Service to publicise the blood donor week.

Today's walk acknowledged two vital services, Mrs King said. "It recognises the importance of a safe and efficient blood service for New Zealanders, and it also recognises the importance of this Sanctuary for our native flora and fauna.

"Both the Blood Service and the Karori Sanctuary also provide for everyday needs. The Blood Service is literally the lifeline for New Zealanders who require transfusions to stay alive. The Karori Sanctuary provides a secure day-to-day environment for the slow and gradual rehabilitation of our native flora and fauna."

Mrs King said New Zealand was closing in on its goal of having the world's best blood service. "The former hospital-based services have been integrated into one organisation; a national collection system is in place; policies, procedures and equipment have been standardised; processing has been rationalised; and a new information system has been established, along with a new accreditation system.

"These achievements would have been a big ask in the best of circumstances, but unforseen developments such as the intensification of the AIDS epidemic, an increased awareness of the virulence of Mad Cow Disease, and follow-up issues in respect to Hepatitis C, have made the task even greater."

But recruiting and retaintaining an adequate number of donors remained a challenge, she said. About 60 percent of first-time blood donors did not return to donate again.

"While the public responds well to immediate appeals, people are more complacent about regular contact and the service has been falling short of weekly targets as a consequence. That is why National Blood Donor Week is so important. It pushes the concept that regular donation of blood is literally a life-long commitment."

Ends

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