Would you walk 150Km to help save a stranger's life?

Nothing gets in the way of 58-year-old Samuel Reid from donating plasma every two weeks. Not even a whopping two hour walk from his home in Otahuhu to the Epsom Blood Center is enough to put Samuel off.  In fact, having donated 15 times, Samuel has walked over 150kms (further than Auckland to Hamilton!) to donate plasma to help his fellow Kiwis.   He decided to switch from whole blood donation to becoming a plasma donor this year because it meant he could donate more frequently – twice a month – and more people could benefit from his plasma.

“It doesn’t hurt at all, and I don’t feel any different afterwards because they put the red blood cells back in your body. Plus I get to read magazines, put my feet up after the long walk to the Blood Centre, and have some chocolate biscuits at the end, so it’s all good,” says Samuel.

New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is asking more Kiwi donors like Samuel, to consider becoming a plasma donor, as NZBS needs 3,000 new plasma donors to meet the projected demand for 2015.   Dubbed ‘liquid gold’, plasma is the gold coloured liquid part of blood that carries blood cells around the body. It’s needed more and more for blood products manufactured from plasma donations. In fact, due to changing medical needs and practices, NZBS has seen a significant increase in the demand for plasma, which continues to rise by 2.5% each year. 

Plasma donations use an apheresis machine which is able to separate the blood, store the plasma and return the red cells and platelets to the donor. Because plasma donations return the red cells to the donor, apheresis donors can normally donate more frequently than whole blood donors who are limited to a three month wait between donations.

More than 50 tonnes of plasma is needed for blood products each year. These blood products are used for a variety of reasons, from people who have lost a lot of blood, kidney patients and chemotherapy patients. It is also used to help treat some people with haemophilia or von Willebrand disease, and to boost the immune systems of people who do not have enough antibodies of their own to protect against some infections.  

“Being a plasma donor makes you feel good,” says Samuel. For all those considering becoming a plasma donor, Samuel says “Just do it. Think about all the sick people you’re helping.”

To find out more about becoming an apheresis plasma donor, click here or call 0800 448 325.

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