Biking to boost gifts of blood

By DOUG LAING


Her 30-year-old fiance would not be around had it not been for transfusions.Blood donor rules prevent French couple Julien Leblay and Marion Dumas from contributing to the blood banks of New Zealand during their cycling tour of the country.

But, in Napier yesterday, they were doing the next best thing by encouraging other people to part with a little bit of theirs. It's a unique commitment bonded by a common cause and, soon, the tying of the marital knot.

Miss Dumas, 25, said her 30-year-old fiance would not be around had it not been for transfusions he's had in the past, and she's responded by making 30 donations, an estimated combined offering of about 15 litres.

They can't donate in New Zealand, because of donoring restrictions on people who lived in the UK or France between 1980 and 1996, imposed since Mr Leblay was in New Zealand, and did donate blood, about six years ago.

Similar types of restrictions are in place in many of the 22 countries the couple have ridden through, but they could donate blood when they were in Cambodia.

But their great New Zealand pedal, about 3000km of the 21,000km they've done since leaving France in July 2010, will have served a purpose in replenishing the stocks before the couple heads home later this month.

Terrain covered has varied from motorways and sealed main highways to the hill country of Molesworth Station, and the final stages around East Cape over the next few days to a 170km, one-day push into Auckland, all with Miss Dumas' excess baggage of over 60kg.

Co-ordination of hosting and contacts in New Zealand was done through clubs of Rotary International, of which Mr Leblay is a member and which, the couple said, was an organisation "all about giving, not taking".

"You have to donate blood if you can," said Miss Dumas. "It only takes five minutes of your time."

The couple met when Mr Leblay was speaking at a conference about his early cycling travels, and they set on a plan, to cycle around the world.

Being from Clermont-Ferrand, the home of French rugby champions, they made sure they were in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup.

But now it's almost time for them to go home.

They'll take their bikes with them, to complete the last 200km of their journey of two years. Then, in May, they will marry, and take a honeymoon for three days - with not a bike in sight.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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