Dedication to a good deed

If you’re after a textbook definition of “time-poor”, you’d be hard pushed to find a better example than Cantabrian Elizabeth George. She works a six-day week, and yet she still manages to make the time to give up a precious few hours every month in order to donate blood. In fact, she’s been making time to donate for the last 18 years.

There was no unique trigger that first caused Elizabeth to begin donating blood; it was a chance encounter at a Women’s Expo that Elizabeth was attending in Christchurch, and where New Zealand Blood Service was exhibiting. When she was told of the desperate need for new donors every year, Elizabeth signed up on the spot, and her blood has been helping to save numerous lives ever since.

Elizabeth started off as a whole blood donor, before moving on to donating platelets – the very small cellular components that induce clotting and help to prevent severe blood loss. In 2013, she added plasma to her list, and now donates either plasma or platelets depending on the demand.

Becoming a plasma and platelet donor means you can donate more regularly, and according to Elizabeth the procedure is much more interesting to watch. This is because plasma and platelet donations are made using something called an “apheresis” machine, where instead of donating whole blood into a bag, the donor gives only a part (or component) of their blood, and the rest is returned to their body.

The apheresis machine works by collecting the donor’s whole blood, separating out the red blood cells and plasma or platelets, and then returning the red blood cells back into the donor – all using the same needle! Elizabeth often tries to read during her appointments but is sometimes so mesmerised by the apheresis machine that her reading falls by the wayside.

Elizabeth’s dedication to helping others has now seen her make more than 140 donations. While it can be tough finding the time with her tight work schedule, Elizabeth says the warm satisfaction she gets from knowing she’s helping to save others’ lives is immeasurable.

“What you get out of it is a wonderful feeling. To step out of your personal bubble and help others is certainly worth taking a small amount of time out of your day”, she says.

Elizabeth’s long-lasting dedication to donating blood doesn’t stop there either, she’s even “on call”. That means, if another donor has to cancel at the last-minute, Elizabeth can be called upon to fill the gap.

“Donating blood saves lives,” she says, “And it’s just such an easy thing to do”.

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

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