Many turn up to give blood

Robert Young, of Queenstown, is a loyal blood donor, having donated more than 50 times. Photo by Christina McDonald.
Robert Young, of Queenstown, is a loyal blood donor, having donated more than 50 times. Photo by Christina McDonald.
Despite only 4% of the eligible New Zealand population rolling up their sleeves and donating blood, the New Zealand Blood Service was inundated with Queenstown donors on Wednesday.

The service visits the resort twice a year, but not in winter, in case bad weather prevents the blood collected being transported out.

More than 90 people registered to give blood at St Margaret's Presbyterian Church hall, in Frankton, and in total 76 units of blood were collected. New Zealand Blood Service donor recruiter Leita Mackay said several more people turned up but time was limited and for safety reasons the service can only take a few extra donors each hour in addition to booked appointments.

Ms Mackay said the service needed to get the blood on a flight to Christchurch to be processed within 24 hours which meant it was unable to keep collecting. The service was also working towards a target based on predicted demand.

Ms Mackay said it was pleasing to have new donors because that ''is what we need to ensure we maintain a steady database here in Queenstown''.

However, many donors were loyal supporters. Robert Young (61), of Queenstown, has given blood more than 50 times and he was doing so again on Wednesday.

Mr Young said he began donating in the early '80s and his father was also a donor.

''My son has had lots of transfusions over the years - it's my way of giving back.

''There's such a huge need for it [and] I encourage anybody that can, to turn up.''

The process was not ''a huge deal'', merely a ''short pin prick'', he said.

Each blood donation has the potential to save up to three lives.

Ms Mackay encouraged donors to book ahead if possible by visiting the website: www.nzblood.co.nz or by phoning 0800-GIVEBLOOD.

The service will next be in Queenstown on October 23.