Plasma donations by generations

Annette Roberts donated blood for the first time at the age of 16. Little did she know that moment would set in motion a tradition that has transcended generations, and led to the family achieving a major milestone – over 1,000 donations between them.

The Roberts family is made up of three generations of donors who have donated a whopping 1,014 lifetime donations. Despite health and travel deferrals throughout the years, they’ve never fallen off the registry, and as long as they’re eligible to donate, they say they have no intention of slowing down. 

“I was studying nursing when I joined my colleagues, who had all signed up to donate blood. I simply kept going back after that,” says Annette, who lives in Paihia with her husband Keith. “Decades later, I’m still going - only now my family come too. We get great pleasure from helping people, and donating blood is a great way to do just that.”

It’s this same philosophy that’s motivated their children and grandchildren to join the donor registry as well. Their sons Mark and Grant have donated over 200 times in their home town of Auckland, and their 22-year-old grandchild Kodey is also a plasma donor.

Annette’s dedication to donating blood got Keith on board, whose love for riding motorcycles was also a deciding factor in joining the donor registry. While he’s never needed a blood transfusion himself, he thinks about those who do and donates for them.

Keith and Annette began their journey as whole blood donors, but on a nurse’s suggestion they switched to plasma 40 years ago. Plasma serves a variety of functions, from maintaining a satisfactory blood pressure and volume to supplying critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity. Plasma donation is different to whole blood donation in many ways, one being that instead of only donating every three months, plasma can be given every fortnight

Plasma is also a component of the blood that can be turned into 11 different lifesaving blood products that go towards a wide variety of patients in need. Every year, New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) needs around 70 tonnes of plasma to help save lives, hence its nickname ‘liquid gold’.

“Doing something for someone else who can’t do it for themselves, is brilliant. When we hear a story about someone being sick, or that a child or teenager needs a weekly plasma-derived treatment for the rest of their lives, it only motivates us to return for our fortnightly donations,” says Annette.

 

In addition to being committed and dedicated blood donors, Keith and Annette are also involved in other volunteer work. They are on the Friends of Williams House committee providing facilities at a heritage site; Keith is also a firefighter with the Paihia Volunteer Fire Brigade and Annette is the brigade secretary.

“My thinking has always been that society is only a result of what people put back into it,” says Keith. “If people keep taking from it, it’s not going to go anywhere. We’ve got to give back where we can, and plasma donation is a good way to do it.”

Although there have been times along the way that have kept the Roberts family from donating at times, this dedicated donor team all keep going back.

 “We’ve got to do something to help those people, who through no fault of their own are suffering with illness and disease,” says Annette. “We can help, so we do, and we encourage anyone out there who is eligible to help too.”

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

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