About 1% of the population or 42,000 patients are treated with blood or blood products in New Zealand each year.
The Haultain family of Hamilton are a modern medical miracle.
Not for any medical treatment they receive but for the gift of life they give over and over and over again.
Rather than giving blood the old-fashioned way through red blood cells, the Haultain family gives plasma. Once a fortnight on average, the five members of the family travel individually or in pairs to the Waikato Blood Donor Centre to make their donations.
December 29th 2011, was the first day all five Haultains gave plasma together at the same time. Collectively they have donated plasma 412 times. Dad Philip has donated 85 times, Mum Avrill 111 times, son Michael 116 times, son Brent 20 times and son Grant 80 times.
The blood centre says plasma is used to save lives in hospitals including for accident, burn and cancer patients, and demand is constant and growing.
Yesterday Mr Haultain challenged other Waikato families to match or better his family's contribution.
Mrs Haultain said she started giving plasma when she worked as a community nurse in Auckland, and she and her husband had been giving since they were young.
"I could see the benefit from working in hospital," Mrs Haultain said. "It's something you can do to help other people."
The couple's three sons started giving plasma when they were at Melville High School, and they have been giving ever since. Michael, aged 36, a respiratory technician at Waikato Hospital, said it felt great to help others. Brent, 27, a regional sales representative, and Grant, 26, a university student, both said it was easy to do.
Waikato Blood Donor Centre team leader Marie Sutherland-Smith said giving plasma took about an hour and 20 minutes. Plasma is replaced in the body quicker than red cells, so people can give plasma more often.
"You get to sit on a bed, read a magazine, have a cup of tea or coffee, watch TV. We have wifi (wireless internet). You can come in and relax while you give back. We need more people to come in and donate," she said.
The blood centre encourages people to get in touch with them to talk it through if they are interested in donating plasma.
Published on: 10 Feb 2012