Volunteer blood donors – the other unsung heroes of COVID-19

30 Nov 2021

The need for blood and plasma never stops.

Even when the social and economic gears of New Zealand came to a halt in mid-August after COVID-19 restrictions were imposed by the Government following detection of the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus in the community, New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) continued to required more than 4000 appointments every week to meet the ongoing demand for blood and blood products.

Fortunately, they were able to keep pace with that target.

That was largely due to the unwavering commitment of voluntary donors across Aotearoa. They continued to find the time to turn up at donor centres and blood drives across the country to give blood and plasma, during a period where some people were apprehensive to leave their homes or significantly limiting their travel.

Put simply, they are unsung heroes and the whole country owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

To understand why blood and plasma donations are so important, one needs to understand more about the need for blood and plasma in New Zealand. The stats below provide an insight:

With less than four per cent of New Zealanders rolling up their sleeves to give blood or plasma, it certainly poses some challenges in terms of ensuring there is enough supply to save lives – even at the best of times.

Of course, donors by nature are caring people and it’s fantastic that so many of them continued to heed the call for help, to donate blood or plasma when New Zealand found itself in lockdown once again.

That was particularly the case in the Auckland region, where much of the COVID-19 restrictions have applied. Whether it was because people had more free time on their hands or were looking for a reason other than visiting the supermarket to leave the house, appointment bookings remained steady and donations continued to be made in the City of Sails.

NZBS are now encouraging new donors to find out if they are eligible and to start donating, as we ready ourselves for more freedoms under the new COVID-19 Traffic Light System.

Why? It’s simple: The need for blood and plasma never stops.

NZBS has recently made changes to its donor eligibility criteria, including extending the upper age limit for first-time blood and plasma donors to 71 and allowing for the possibility of existing donors to keep donating until the age of 81.

If you would like to find out more information about donating blood and plasma in New Zealand, please visit www.nzblood.co.nz.