It's all gold

As a health insurance broker in Christchurch, Nathan Sommerfeld is already well acquainted with lending a hand but every four weeks he lends an arm instead, to New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) as a plasma donor to help save lives. 

Nathan’s link to NZBS dates back to 1989, during his ‘Uni’ days when he started donating whole blood simply because he could (although he says a certain confectionary may or may not have motivated him to do so). Although less frequent, he remained committed to his donations after college but soon would develop a special connection to his donations far stronger than ever before.

In 2009, Nathan had a son. A beautiful baby boy named Elijah who was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TPI) at only 4½ months old. TPI is a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets which are necessary for normal blood clotting. Luckily, shortly after the diagnosis Elijah was given a blood product made from plasma known as Immunoglobulin, and soon his platelet count was back to normal.

Amazed by the result, Nathan inquired about the blood product and learned that it was the result of donated plasma– the liquid portion of the blood in which red and white blood cells and platelets are suspended, otherwise known as ‘liquid gold’ due to its yellow hue. Without hesitation, he requested to become a plasma donor himself in the hopes of helping other families who were experiencing what he had just been through.

Fast-forward seven years and Nathan remains committed to his plasma donations with no plans in sight to stop any time soon. The donation process takes him around 45 minutes on the chair, enough time for him to relax, lay back on the comfy recliner and sift through his phone or watch some telly for a while. It also helps having an accommodating employer to allow him to donate during work hours.

As part of the ‘Golden Oldies Rugby’ team in Christchurch, he keeps himself busy in his spare time. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family, quality activities he says aren’t at all affected by his scheduled donations.

“The act of donating blood is the best way to volunteer one’s time because you know there will be someone who will benefit from it”, says Nathan. “Seven years ago, it was my family who benefited. But no matter what you give, whether it’s yellow or red, know that it’s all gold”.

To find out more about how you can become a plasma donor, click here or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD.


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