New Zealand Blood Service calls for holiday donations

While many people are wrapping up at work and winding down, for some services the holiday period is the busiest time of the year.

The blood service needs more donations to meet the higher demand caused by road crashes.

But it also needs blood for those who regularly rely on them like cancer patients and people with blood disorders.

One man who relies on people giving blood, no matter what the season, is Anthony McQuoid. He isn't just one in a million - he's one in at least four million. The father-of-two is the only person in the whole country with the blood disorder Hb Volga which he's had his whole life.

"The disorder destroys my red blood cells," he says.

But red blood cells are crucial for survival. They move oxygen around the body. So when he is deprived of healthy ones, he has to come in to replace them. He looks noticeably ill arriving for his latest transfusion.

"He looks like really pale, you just think wow this guy is really unwell," says New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) therapeutics nurse Brent Cartwright.

Blood is drawn from one arm and spun, stripping the affected red blood cells out. The rest of Mr McQuoid's blood is mixed with the healthy donated red blood cells and put back into his other arm.

He started this treatment about a year ago and will continue it indefinitely.

"Every month I come in and normally have six units of blood and it takes a couple of hours to do," he says.

That's six people's donations each month. In his life, he's been the recipient of hundreds of donors' blood - and he's incredibly grateful for it.

"Thank you for everyone who donates blood. I don't know what situation I'd be in if no one did," he says.

The NZBS hopes his story will inspire more Kiwis to make blood donations.

"We actually need to collect over 3000 donations a week to meet demand. So if you are a blood donor or you're considering becoming a blood donor this is a great time," says NZBS communications officer Laura Skerritt.

So people like Anthony McQuoid can continue to do the things he loves.