Urgent demand for plasma forces New Zealand Blood Service to try and double its donor list

The New Zealand Blood Service has set itself a mammoth goal - it needs to get 55,000 new donors on its registry in order to keep up with the increasing demand for plasma.

That's a 50 percent increase on the current donor registry. But not everyone who can donate blood will be able to donate plasma as well.

"Because not everyone can give plasma we need a big pool of people to donate blood first and then we can find people who are able to give this plasma donation," says NZ Blood Service communications manager Asuka Burge.

On top of this, donating plasma requires specialist equipment so not every donation centre can do it.

"Plasma can only be given at 9 of our donor centres because you need special machinery so we have a geographical challenge, we understand that," she told The AM Show on Wednesday.

The donor centres are in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. 

"Also there's extra criteria you need to meet in order to donate plasma, so height and weight is very important which is why we're looking for men because they meet that criteria much easier," she continued.

"Men have more blood volume than women so they can give more because they have more inside them. So there's a calculator on our website and you can add in your height and weight and it'll tell you 'yes you are' or 'no you're not'."

Every year 29,000 New Zealanders will have their lives saved by a blood donation. At the moment only 4 percent of Kiwis who are eligible to donate blood do so. 

Those interested in becoming a blood donor can visit www.nzblood.co.nz or call 0800 448 325 for more information.

Blood can be donated every three months, and plasma can be donated every two weeks.