New Zealand’s record-breaking donor

Paul Tomlin was 19 years old when he first signed up to be a blood donor – he was just accompanying his uncle and had agreed to give a few minutes of his day to donate blood. Little did he know, he was giving so much more than his time. His dedication and commitment since has turned Paul into the country’s most giving donor, with an astounding 600 donations under his belt.

“I started back in 1974 with my uncle and just kept going back”, says Paul.

Although he did not set out to break any records, Paul continued making blood donations on a regular basis for the next 45 years. His good deed has since transformed into an admirable good habit, one that’s led him to record breaking heights in New Zealand. Like clockwork, he shows up at Auckland’s EPSOM donor centre every other Friday at 7:30am to save lives.

“It’s really not a big deal”, says Paul. “The donor centre is on my way to work so I just stop by before I start my workday”.

Paul works at the University of Auckland as a technician and says his workplace has been incredibly supportive of his commitment as a donor, which has only fuelled his dedication.

He began donating whole blood before making the switch to plasma, a procedure that takes roughly 45 minutes and involves an automated process where the donor gives only a certain part or component of their blood. The donor's blood is collected, and the red blood cells, plasma and platelets are separated. The plasma is then extracted, and the red blood cells and platelets are returned to the donor using a process Paul is very familiar with, called "apheresis".

“I never thought I’d get to this many donations, but truth is I never really thought about it. I’ve just kept it up because it’s such a worthy cause”, says Paul.

And worthy it is indeed Paul. Plasma collected in New Zealand is used to make up to 11 different lifesaving medical treatments for people with immune deficiency related health issues.

Plasma donors aren’t simply giving up their time to donate, they’re offering patients a new way of life, a quality of life unattainable to them otherwise. As such, the demand for plasma is on the rise and will only continue to grow in the years to come. All it takes is a couple of minutes of your day to realise you’re giving so much more than your time.

Cause for celebration
Paul’s record-breaking donation is no small feat and to ensure the moment was appropriately acknowledged, the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) team and Paul’s close family and friends all surprised Paul with a luncheon at EPSOM’s donor centre shortly after his donation. Associate Health Minister Hon Peeni Henare was there to present Paul with a certificate to commemorate the milestone.

In addition, NZBS also hosted a Facebook Live interview with Paul as he made his 600th donation.

A few words from NZBS National Manager Marketing and Communications, Asuka Burge:

“Paul is a legend and we hope you find his efforts and dedication as inspiring as we do. If you’re reading this, please consider becoming a donor and if you’re already a blood donor, consider making the switch to plasma. We need you.”

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

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