Red blood cells only last 35 days.
Wow, that wasnt nearly as bad I thought it would be might not sound like much of a compliment, but for Kerry Chamberlain, Nurse Team leader of Collections at the New Zealand Blood Service its praise indeed.
One of the biggest misconceptions we come across on a daily basis is that donating blood might hurt. First time donors often come into our centres a little apprehensive and unsure of the process. Its our job to ensure that every donor who walks through our doors has a good experience, and wants to come back. In fact we rely on our donors coming back, because each donation has the power to save up to three lives.
Another myth is that we need people to donate all the time because stock levels are low. The reality is far more complicated. Yes, there is a constant need for donors to meet the never-ending demand for blood and blood products, but we might need some donors to donate less often and others more frequently, depending on their blood type or where they live.
All blood and blood products have a shelf life; if we over-collect a certain product or blood type, there is every chance it may expire before it is used, which is unthinkable.
Balancing donations against stock levels is one of the most complicated aspects of our work at the New Zealand Blood Service. Its a very fine line we need exactly the right amount of donors to come to donate the right blood product at the right time it can feel a little bit like being a circus juggler!
The holiday period can be a particularly challenging balancing act, for example platelets have a short shelf life of only five days, so we need to continue collecting through Christmas and January. We are lucky to have extremely dedicated staff who understand that it is essential to keep working while the rest of the country is thinking about camping trips and unwinding by the sea. But our teams commitment is equally matched by our amazing donors who take time out of their holidays to keep on donating. It really is an inspiring team effort and one Im so proud to be a part of.
One of my favourite parts of the job is seeing donors come back again and again for nothing more than a choccy biscuit!
Published on: 20 Jan 2014
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