Popping in for pint and a cuppa

DONATION STATION: Mobile blood unit team leader Natalie Lewis and New Plymouth man Nick Rayner at the Bell Block Hall temporary blood donor station on Monday.
DONATION STATION: Mobile blood unit team leader Natalie Lewis and New Plymouth man Nick Rayner at the Bell Block Hall temporary blood donor station on Monday.

Donating blood is like receiving a free health check-up.

At least 80 people rolled up their sleeves at the Bell Block Hall yesterday to donate blood at the mobile blood unit.

The unit's team leader, Natalie Lewis, said aside from the satisfaction of knowing they've helped save lives, blood donors also received a free health check.

Blood pressure, pulse rates, haemoglobin levels and cardiac conditions are all assessed, she said.

"They get a mini health check," Ms Lewis said.

If that wasn't enough donors also get a free cuppa and biscuit.

Each person donates 470 millilitres of blood - enough to save three lives, she said.

New Plymouth man Nick Rayner, who was "bleeding out" when the Daily News visited yesterday, said he gave blood every chance he got.

"I've got plenty of it so why not," Mr Rayner said.

"It's pretty painless."

The mobile blood unit, which visits Taranaki only a couple of times each year, is in Hawera today where it has 120 appointments and Stratford tomorrow for 100 appointments.

Women from the Lions Club were volunteering their time at the donor centre in Bell Block yesterday.

A few months ago the unit was in New Plymouth and had 500 people donate blood over four days, she said.

In the past few years the unit had noticed a reduction in the number of donors, especially during the winter when more people were sick, she said.

"That's when we need blood the most," Ms Lewis said.

To give blood donors must be free of cold and flu symptoms for seven days, she said.

The mobile unit also visits schools where donor numbers had dropped off recently, she said.

On average about five people in every 100 would faint, she said.

In schools the number of fainters increased, especially at girls schools. "Once one faints they all want to go after that," she added.

Only about 4 per cent of New Zealanders gave blood.

Taranaki Daily News