Basketballers give blood as a team

Andy Bay Falcons basketball coach Greg Brockbank (left) and player Alex Yarnall at the New...
Andy Bay Falcons basketball coach Greg Brockbank (left) and player Alex Yarnall at the New Zealand Blood Service in Dunedin. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Andy Bay Falcons players are taking a team approach to giving blood.

The Dunedin basketball team has signed up for a New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) initiative that promotes giving blood as a team, after seeing how it helped one of its members.

Local basketballers got behind Falcons centre Alex Yarnall (21) last August when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Players wore orange patches — the leukaemia support colour — on their uniforms as Mr Yarnall began four cycles of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.

The cancer is in remission but the experience and the necessity for blood transfusions during treatment has not been forgotten.

The team has signed up for the NZBS Team Red programme, in which companies, organisations and groups are encouraged to give blood as a team.

Mr Yarnall said his coach, Greg Brockbank, was behind the team’s plan to give blood, something that was expected to expand as student members arrived back in town for the competition, which starts in April.

Seeing the team get involved was ‘‘great’’.

‘‘It’s good for other people.

‘‘I’ve still got people that I know who are still in hospital, and they’re in need.’’

Donor recruiter Lynn Rodeka said Dunedin was very supportive of the service, with up to 130 donations a week, but blood was always needed.

She had been visiting groups including businesses, schools and churches to sign people up to the initiative.

NZBS national marketing and communications manager Asuka Burge said Team Red was designed to make giving blood more convenient and less daunting, and appeal to corporations’ sense of social responsibility.

There were 29,000 people treated with blood or blood products every year, and less than 4% of eligible donors donated.

The service needed to collect about 3000 donations nationally every week.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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