Lending a hand

It’s hard enough finding time in our days with one job, however Canterburian Karen Gardener finds the time despite having two. She spends her time driving across the country for a travel company while also managing a hotel bar – yet she still finds the time to donate blood every month. How does she do it?

Karen has been donating blood so long it’s become part of her routine.

It all started 30 years ago, when Karen was in her early 20s. A friend who was a donor would pop by every time the New Zealand Mobile Blood Drives would visit. Her friend suggested she try it out for herself, which she did and has admirably kept doing so on and off for 30 years.

Karen started as a whole blood donor but soon moved up to donating plasma after finding encouragement from a New Zealand Blood Service plasma drive. Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood and is a protein-salt solution in which red and white blood cells and platelets are suspended. On one of her first plasma donations, one of the nurses noticed her platelet count was formidably high.

Why is it so important? The platelet is vital to life because it helps prevent both massive blood loss resulting from trauma and blood vessel leakage that would otherwise occur in the course of normal day-to-day activity. Everyone’s platelet count is different, and only those past a certain amount are eligible to donate, making Karen a very special donor.

Karen donates platelets every three-to-four weeks. Her visits usually take around an hour and a half and they don’t affect her leisure activities in the least – she always has time to donate, work in her garden (as her last name suggests) and catch up with her friends.  To those who are considering donating their blood, but are hesitant, Karen says, “Just walk in the door. Don’t hesitate and everything will be taken care of.

“We’ve all got somewhere to be and people to meet, but you try and make it work because you know someone will need that blood. I do it personally because I can. I’m not afraid of needles, I can make the time and more importantly it’s not that someone wants it, they need it!

“If you saw someone in trouble, you’d help them if you could, wouldn’t you? This is just the same”.

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

Back to top