News

Tauranga Hospital blood donor ‘heroes’ recognised for gift of life

26 January 2021

A woman inspired to give blood after losing her mum in a road traffic accident is just one of a team of ‘heroes’ at Tauranga Hospital who have been recognised by the NZ Blood Service.

Tauranga Hospital blood donor ‘heroes’ recognised for gift of life
Cally Stratton (left) and Maree Wilson (right) receive the trophy on behalf of Tauranga Hospital Team Red from NZ Blood Service Donor Relations Coordinator Linda Way.

The NZ Blood Service presented Tauranga Hospital’s Team Red with a trophy on Wednesday (20 January) for being the Bay of Plenty work group with the largest number of blood donations, 838, up to the end of 2020.

Typist Cally Stratton is one of 46 donors who form the team. She was just 15 when her mum was involved in a head-on collision, an incident which changed her life forever.

“Mum was trapped for over an hour, then taken to Waikato Hospital where she was placed on life support,” recalls Cally. “Over the next week she was transfused with almost 20 units but succumbed to her injuries later that week. Whilst I knew I could never bring her back, I could give back and as soon as I was able (later that year aged 16), I started donating blood. My dad was a policeman so gave regularly and I often went with him to watch, so was no stranger to the process.

“That was a long time ago, and except for a short break when my children were young, I have given at every opportunity – my next donation will be number 71. I am also proud that both my children donate. Although I hope never to have cause to be on the receiving end, I am eternally grateful that there are so many heroes out there who willingly give their time (and precious blood) to help people they will probably never know but, like me, send their donation with love and hope.”

Maree Wilson is the Team Red captain and coordinates blood donor days on the Tauranga Hospital campus. Maree is a relatively new donor and says the experience is a fulfilling one.

“I have for a long time thought about donating blood, but never got around to it,” she said. “I decided this was a way I can help our health system and someone in need. I don’t like needles and blood, but they made it such an easy process and it was a pleasant experience. I have now donated twice, and what a great feeling it is knowing that I am helping someone.

“Working with Linda Way at the NZ Blood Service has been a pleasure as she has always been so friendly and helpful. I would recommend to anyone who was thinking of donating – just do it! If you are part of the DHB, come join our Tauranga Hospital Team Red, if not you can get in touch with Linda quite easily.”

NZ Blood Service Donor Relations Coordinator Linda Way said, as she presented the trophy, that it was given with “greatest appreciation” for “all of your donations of whole blood which helped us to save the lives of New Zealanders across the country”. 

“You have managed to save up to 2,834 Kiwi lives from 838 donations to the end of 2020,” she continued. “It is true heroes like yourselves that we rely on to keep us all safe. With less than 4% of people who are able to donate across our country, it is so important to celebrate those who do give this selfless lifesaving gift. A special thank you to your Team Captain Maree Wilson who is so dedicated and works so hard to rally the troops for your group donations. We truly appreciate all your hard work.”

Linda hoped the actions of donors like Tauranga Hospital Team Red would bring more awareness and encourage others to donate either whole blood or plasma.

“We are in constant need of donors and with the growth of our population and illnesses, the demand for our products is consistently on the rise. So, if you are 16 to 66 years young we challenge you to become a real hero too.”

Those looking to donate can contact Linda Way, at NZ Blood Service, on 07 578 2194 or 0800 448 325, or visit nzblood.co.nz for more information.