Blood sisters

Giving blood, if you’re able to, is something that can truly save lives. On World Blood Donor Day (14 June), learn about Annabelle Fawcett’s experience of donating blood over the last 35 years, and discover the top five female donors in Auckland.

Words Lara Wyatt

When Annabelle Fawcett was just five years old, she lost her father to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. During her high school years she discovered a way that she could give back in remembrance of her dad — giving blood. It wasn’t just the enticement of a cookie and some time away from class that Fawcett was driven to donate by — it was the knowledge that her blood could go towards patients fighting blood cancer.

It was during childbirth that Fawcett found she needed to be at the other end of the donation experience. She needed two units of whole blood as well as a plasma-derived product called Anti-D.

Since then, Fawcett has dedicated much of her time to the cause. She’s taken part in Shave for a Cure, where she shaved her head and raised $2500 for the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ foundation. She also now works for New Zealand Blood Service as a donor recruiter. We spoke with her about what this involves and learnt more about her journey.

Good: Can you tell us more about your role as a donor recruiter? What does this involve?

Fawcett: As a donor recruiter I’m in charge of booking the venues for mobile drives and making sure we get enough donors in.  We do this by promotions such as holding What’s My Type events and our Team Red (group donation) programme. As our need for plasma increases, we are always looking for donors that meet the criteria.

For those who are a bit squeamish and don’t like the idea of the needles, what advice would you give them? Do you have any tips for making the blood donation process easier?

Our nurse and donor techs are really good at what they do. I personally don’t even feel it. If you are nervous tell them and they will take extra care to make you feel comfortable.  They will cover the needle so you don’t have to look at it. Always drink and eat well before and after, that always helps!

When you started donating blood, how common was it for people to be donating? Do you think there are more people donating blood now?

I started when I was at school, so for most people I knew it was a good excuse to get out of class. We find that age can make a difference, some age brackets are better at donating.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of needing blood donations? What was that like for you and how has this changed your viewpoint (or enhanced it)?

When I needed a transfusion I wasn’t actually aware because it was an emergency situation after childbirth.  It wasn’t until afterwards I realized what I’d been through and how scary it must have been for my husband.

Top five female donors in Auckland

Together, these five amazing women have made more than 1,655 donations and have saved more than 4,965 lives.

  1. Annette Roberts, 68 years old.
  2. Ann Macdonald, 70 years old.
  3. Robyn Evans, 70 years old.
  4. Jillian Gravatt, 63 years old.
  5. Delys Julie Moore Wood, 65 years old. 

If you’d like to learn more about giving blood, head to nzblood.co.nz/give-blood

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