BY MACKENZIE STEELE

 

Today, we celebrate World Blood Donor Day – a day established by the World Health Organisation to honour and promote unpaid blood donors, because they save lives – 29,000 in New Zealand alone!

Donating is really easy and safe, and there are a few things you can choose to donate:

  • Whole blood – used for transfusions to help people with severe blood loss or extreme anaemia (one small donation from you can save 3 lives),
  • Bone marrow – it helps someone with bone marrow and blood disorders, because that’s where your blood is made (there’s even a bone marrow registry),
  • Platelets –it helps Leukaemia patients with blood clotting during chemotherapy,
  • Plasma – used to make products for haemophilia and immune deficiencies.

 

I talked to 19-year old Sher Ling, a recipient of blood donation products, to find out more about how blood donation impacts her life.

Sher-Ling Chong

Why do you need blood products and how long have you needed it?

I need blood products as an immune replacement therapy as I have an extremely rare primary immune deficiency called APDS 2 (only person in NZ with this diagnosis). I have little immunity, so this product helps replace part of my immune system.

What is the product you receive, what is it made from, and what does it do?

I receive a blood product called Evogam, it is a plasma-based product that contains IVIG, an immunoglobulin that is part of the immune system. It is a product used as an immune replacement therapy for people with low immunity, whether that be for short-term or long-term reasons.

What is it like for you to receive the treatment?

I do weekly sub-cut transfusions at home. It’s really convenient for me as I don’t have to take a day off to go to hospital to have treatment. I can just sit on the couch and watch tv while my pump does all the administering, it takes 1hr and a half all up as opposed to the 8hrs I used be at the hospital for.

Why do you think people don’t donate?

I think many people are afraid of needles and/or believe that they don’t fit the donor criteria, e.g. weight, health background like anaemia.

How do you think donating fits (or should fit) within New Zealand’s culture?

I think it should be the cultural ‘norm’ in New Zealand for everyone to donate blood and that it becomes something everyone does.

If you could donate, what would you donate and why?

I would donate plasma as the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is always looking for more plasma donors, and plasma is currently in high demand at the moment. Many kiwis, particularly those with immune deficiencies like me, rely on weekly transfusions of plasma to lead a ‘normal’ life.

The New Zealand Blood service has 110,000 amazing volunteers to celebrate Blood Donor Day, but they also need 55,000 more! Check out the eligibility criteria, and if you still aren’t sure you can donate, contact your local centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD to talk to a nurse. If you are eligible, book an appointment, and go save lives!

 

Want to know more? Check out these links:

The NZ Blood Service

The NZ Bone Marrow Registry

WHO Blood Donor Day

 

MACKENZIE STEELE is Tearaway’s resident evil Aspie queen. Mwahaha! She’s dead set on becoming a geneticist, but she’s interested in other things too. Like Sims, cats, owls, Sims, books, music, Sims, Ancient Roman life, Latin, Sims…

Check out more of Mackenzie’s work:

How To Be A Life Saver: Giving Blood Is Easier Than You Think

2018 In Science

In Review: The Book Of Knowing

 

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