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When Cantabrian Todd Kraiger isn’t working or spending time with family, you’ll find him out running up and down the Port Hills, cycling around the Canterbury plains or kayaking on the Waimakariri River. There’s also a good chance you’ll find him in his local Donor Centre, donating platelets to the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS).
Every three weeks, Todd arrives at the Christchurch Donor Centre ready to donate. With his phone left in the car, this is Todd’s time to switch off from the outside world, relax, unwind, and plough through a good book or DVD.
Todd is one of NZBS’s vital platelet donors, meaning that instead of donating whole blood, he only donates his platelets via an apheresis machine. This clever machine is able to separate the blood, store the platelets and return the red cells and plasma back to him.
Platelets are essential for stopping bleeding and helping blood to clot, and have a shelf-life of five days. This poses a real challenge for NZBS to maintain a steady supply, therefore regular, committed donors are needed to keep up with demand.
Having been a loyal donor for over 20 years, he made the transition from whole blood donor to platelet donor 10 years ago when a nurse told him he had a particularly high platelet count, making him an ideal candidate. He had a think about it, was happy to meet the time-commitment and felt it was right thing to do. Since then, he has donated platelets at least 110 times!
“It takes a bit longer than a whole blood donation – normally between one-and-a-half to two hours. To be honest, the extra time doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I feel like I’m giving more back, knowing that my platelets will go to someone who urgently needs them.
“The nurses look after you so well and are able to give a lot of detail about where your platelets are going and who they’re helping, which makes it so rewarding on a personal level.”
Todd has been called up by NZBS a few times to urgently donate when there was a particular shortage, and raced into the Donor Centre to donate after the Christchurch earthquake when he was told there was an urgent need for more platelets.
“I definitely recommend that whole blood donors look into platelet donation if they meet the criteria. Once you hear what they’re using your platelets for, it’s so rewarding. I know my platelets and blood have gone to a lot of people, and that’s really heartwarming.”
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