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I Received Blood

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Suzi Wallis

Suzi's Story

Auckland

I’m an identical twin. I’m married to an identical twin too. You should see our wedding photos. People do a double take and wonder if they’re seeing things!

Back when my sister and I were born prematurely my mum needed a blood transfusion to get through. We were in a bad way. My hearing was damaged by about 30%. Then we got separated. My mum and my twin sister went to Napier Hospital and I was in Hastings Hospital. The doctors didn’t expect me and my sister to live. Well, we showed them!

When I was seven I had an operation to remove my tonsils and adenoids in the hope it would improve the hearing damage. They couldn’t find a vein to anaesthetise me before the operation – they even tried my feet. It was horrible.

All I remember after that is waking up in bed, surrounded by a group of doctors and nurses clapping. Apparently I had haemorrhaged during the operation, and needed rather a lot of blood to get through. So blood has helped me twice in my life. I wouldn’t be here today without blood given by donors.

That horrible experience of needles didn’t stop me giving blood, though. I started donating at about 16 when the Blood Service came to my school, and I’ve donated 33 times now. I have really tricky veins so they always call the most senior nurse on duty to take my blood.

My blood group is A negative, which is fairly uncommon. Only around 6% of New Zealanders share my blood group. I was waiting to give blood at Epsom Donor Centre one time when a nurse came around asking for an A negative donor, saying there was a baby who needed my blood. No pressure! Thankfully my veins played ball that day.

I wouldn’t say it’s fun, but to anyone who is scared of needles I would say ‘take a big breath when they put the needle in, don’t look, and chat away to the nurse to distract yourself’ – that always helps me. They’re so lovely at the Donor Centre, they make a big fuss and take care of you.

How do I fit it in? I work it around my work hours. You only really need to allow an hour for whole blood donations. If you think about it you probably make time to go to the doctor or get a hair cut. Giving blood is no different, you just make it happen.

One of my friends is a plasma donor and she’s great at encouraging people to give and sharing posts on Facebook. I got my husband to start giving blood around five or six years ago. Fewer than 3 in 100 New Zealanders gave blood last year, so I encourage more people to give whenever and wherever I can.

I always think ‘if you can save a life, why wouldn’t you?’