Karen Gardener lends an arm

It’s hard enough finding time in our days with one job, however Cantabrian 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 every month.

Karen started as a whole blood donor 30 years ago when she was in her early 20s. However she soon moved up to donating plasma after finding encouragement from a New Zealand Blood Service plasma drive. On one of her first plasma donations, a nurse noticed her platelet count was formidably high.

Why is this so important? Platelets are very small cellular components that help the clotting process by sticking to the lining of blood vessels. Platelets are vital to life because they 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 donors with a high platelet count are eligible to donate platelets, making Karen a very special donor.

Karen now 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, 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 it. 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.”



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