Saving lives: Team Red at Orion Health

Taisha Stephens was just 12 when her mother was diagnosed with leukaemia. She remembers it as one of the worst times of her life; an emotional whirlwind as she watched her mother fighting for her life – two years of constant visits to the hospital, chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

But what was a trying time for her and her family then, now serves as the motivation behind her role as Team Red Captain at Orion Health.

And despite the massive challenge she faced as a girl what she recalls most is witnessing her mum getting better.

“The whole reason I do what I do for Team Red is because I’ve seen the end-result of a blood donation”, says Taisha. “I’ve seen it, lived it, and my mum is still alive because of it”.

Team Red is a New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) initiative to motivate people to donate blood as a group. Anyone can start-up a Team Red group– businesses, organisations, clubs, even friends.

Orion Health created its own Team Red in November 2017, and straight away Taisha knew she was the right person for the Team Red Captain role, knowing as she did just how vital blood donation is. She has already recruited 20 donors to the team; including six who are keen to become regular plasma donors after hearing from NZBS nurses about the constant need for blood and plasma.

Taisha says her mother’s journey to health included a total of 26 whole blood and plasma transfusions– something that would have been unattainable without the selfless donations of strangers.

“Seeing my mum get better really left an impact on me, and the thought that every donation goes to a life-saving situation like that only pushes me to achieve more with Team Red – to sign more of my colleagues up as donors – because it’s donors who saved my mum’s life”.

Ironically, too, it was only recently that Taisha was able to become a donor herself, having tried in the past but been unable to because of illness or tattoos. She persisted, though, and after months of leading Orion’s Team Red efforts, donated herself for the first time.

“It was such a long time coming that it felt like such a great accomplishment. After my mum having received so much, it was finally my time to give back”.

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


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