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Over Half a Million Lives Saved in the last 20 years, thanks to New Zealand’s blood donors

For New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS), today marks a significant milestone, commemorating 20 years since it was created and appointed as the Crown Entity responsible for the national provision of all blood services and blood products.

The anniversary is certain to invoke an emotional reaction in many New Zealanders as well; since its inception in 1998, NZBS and its dedicated donors have saved or improved the lives of over half a million of us.

Sam Cliffe, Chief Executive Officer of New Zealand Blood Service, says the creation of an integrated national blood service marks an important milestone in the New Zealand health sector, and over the years New Zealand Blood Service has become a self-sustaining, model agency that many international blood services seek to emulate.

“First and foremost, this milestone is a testament to our committed and selfless donors, who understand that there’s no alternative for patients in need of blood or blood products,” says Ms Cliffe.

“Every day in New Zealand, an average of 79 people require blood or blood products, and it’s thanks to our committed donors that we can ensure a healthy blood supply to anyone in need, anytime and anywhere in the country.”

Ms Cliffe asserts that since its creation, NZBS has imbued Kiwis with the peace of mind that there is a safe and secure supply of blood and blood products available to them should they ever need them.

“Since its formation, New Zealand Blood Service has strived for excellence in meeting the needs of donors, patients, staff members and the health of the wider community on a national scale,” she says.

Every whole blood donation has the potential to save up to three lives. Since 1998, more than 600,000 individual donors have each contributed to help save or improve Kiwi lives in need.

NZBS delivers a wide array of crucial blood-related, lifesaving services that are readily available to all Kiwis. These services include blood collection, processing of blood donations (whole blood, plasma and platelets) and accreditation testing of blood donations and blood banking, among other vital services.

It’s not just blood that NZBS provides, it is also responsible for the process of tissue typing for donor skin, bone and organ grafts, and the donation of hip bones which aid children with scoliosis in need of spinal surgeries, and children with cancer whose bone fractures will no longer heal on their own. NZBS also hosts the New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

“NZBS is the lifeblood of New Zealand. Our donors and our team save lives – it’s that simple. It’s thanks to them that we’ve been able to do what we do for these past 20 years”, says Ms Cliffe. “We’ve come a long way, and we’re excited about what we can achieve in the next 20.”

To find out how you can become a blood donor, visit our website at or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD for more information.


Editors notes:

To celebrate the start of its 20th year, NZBS is opening its vaults and sharing stories from the last two decades – stories of hope, change, dedication and thanks that will reverberate for an entire year in hopes to inspire fellow Kiwis to roll up their sleeves and donate. We have access to a huge array of compelling, real-life stories about our inspirational donors and recipients that would interest your audience. If this is of interest, please get in touch.

How New Zealand Blood Service came to be:

The Health Amendment Act enacted by Parliament in 1998 established New Zealand Blood Service as the appointed entity for all blood and blood products in New Zealand. The creation of an integrated national blood service marks an important milestone in the New Zealand health sector as it was previously a service provided regionally within individual Crown Health Enterprises (CHEs).

In 1996, as part of wide-ranging healthcare reforms, the Ministry of Health undertook a review of blood services in New Zealand, which resulted in the landmark Carter-Marshall report. This review indicated a need for change due to widely varying standards in donor management, in processing, and in the use of blood components and blood products; poor national inventory management; lack of a national information system; inefficiencies arising from duplication, comparatively high administrative and transaction costs, and failure to capture potential economies of scale; difficult communication lines at both operational and clinical levels; limited customer focus where customers are seen as donors, clinicians and recipients; and lack of sector wide planning and strategic direction due to fragmentation of the sector.

The Carter-Marshall report recommended the establishment of a national blood service to ensure national consistency of service quality, to establish a national strategic direction for the future blood service, and to achieve rationalisation of the service process and thereby a more efficient blood service.

Since its inception, New Zealand Blood Service has improved consistency in the supply of blood products, provided strategic direction around the provision of services and products, improved cost-effectiveness, allowed new technologies and trends to be evaluated and introduced in an appropriate manner, and most importantly, reinforced safety as its highest priority.

About New Zealand Blood Service:

New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is a not-for-profit Crown entity responsible for the collection, processing, testing and storage and distribution of all blood and blood products in New Zealand. 

We rely on voluntary and non-remunerated blood donations from individuals around the country in order to provide a constant supply of precious blood and blood products used by our health services to save thousands of lives.


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