Calls for more Māori, Pacific Islanders to donate blood

Ahead of World Blood Day, there are calls for more Māori and Pacific Islanders to donate blood.

Calls for more Māori, Pacific Islanders to donate blood. Source: Te Karere

While Māori blood donations continue to grow slowly, they’re still low, says New Zealand Blood Service. And with ethnicity playing a big part in making viable matches in different procedures, the organisation is hoping the number of Māori donors rises.

One Māori donor, Joseph Hodge, told TVNZ’s Te Karere that for him, giving blood is about helping people.

“You know, it keeps me going, because no matter how bad it gets out there, you know you’re doing good,” he says.

Mr Hodge is something of a superstar donor with his blood being free of some common antibodies, which makes him an ideal donor for mothers and babies. This means that he donates more often than usual.

“Ninety-six. That’s four off 100, so yeah, over the three-year period and I’m quite chuffed about that,” he says.

People like Adrian Bosch also benefit from donated blood. Mr Bosch is one of many New Zealanders who needs a blood product to treat his immune deficiency.

“I suppose I’m one of the lucky ones with the finished product. The way the blood service and the Auckland Hospital and Kawakawa Hospital all work together to get my blood to Kawakawa - which I pick up from there - is pretty amazing,” he says.

Donations are better with ethnicities, but while Māori have some of the highest statistics in the country for health issues, only 10 per cent of the donation pool are of Māori descent.

“With Māori and Pacific Islanders, there’s a certain phenotype that is only found predominantly in those ethnicities, so that’s why we need more Māori and Pacific Islanders becoming blood donors,” says Nephi Arthur of New Zealand Blood.

It’s believed that misconceptions around the system and eligibility have hindered growth in donations. But Mr Arthur says things are getting better.

“I’m always amazed at how people just come in. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the CEO or the cleaner of a business, you know. They all come and lie on the bed and donate. It just amazes me that they give, literally, of themselves, to help someone else that they never know and never get to meet.”

With tomorrow being World Blood Day, it’s hoped that more Māori will jump on board.