My happy place: Kerry Chamberlain

By Bronwyn Sell

NZ Blood Service nurse, Kerry Chamberlain, shares her happy place with us.

NZ Blood Service nurse Kerry Chamberlain at her happy place at work.  Photo / Doug Sherring
NZ Blood Service nurse Kerry Chamberlain at her happy place at work. Photo / Doug Sherring

My happy place is spending my work day with people who are donating their precious time and their blood. I see hundreds of donors in a given week, but they never cease to amaze me.

I started working for the blood service after I moved back from Sydney a few years ago. It had always interested me. I used to work at Starship in the oncology ward and we used heaps of blood products. Without the amazing people who donate their blood, those children would have a very different outcome.

There was a kid I looked after over a 12-hour shift to whom I was probably giving three units of blood products an hour, and it's those stories that I think really shock you.

Almost a whole day's worth of my work collecting blood, from 80 or so people, can sometimes almost go to one person in one day. There was a person in Auckland last week who used about 70 units in one day. A unit is one donation, 470ml, which gets split into three products and can go to three people.

Donating is a great way to lift your spirits. Even if you are having a rough day we say, "Hey, at least you can say you've helped save three lives today!"

My team and I work hard to make donating a fun experience from start to finish. I am really pleased to be able to help the people who are petrified of needles or the sight of blood, but who really want to help make a difference. It's never as bad as what they think it will be and they invariably walk out smiling and feeling really good about themselves. It's great to be a part of that.

There was one girl who came in with a group of her workmates, and she was in tears. She was crying because she was so scared. I said, "I think you really need to not donate blood today. I think it's too much for you." And she said, "No, just give me a minute. I don't even know why I'm crying. I'm determined I'm going to do it."

It took her 10 minutes or so to psych herself up. And she did it, and she felt so good about herself afterwards.

I really do see donors as heroes. They may not fit our idea of a big, famous hero, but their ability to save lives can't be disputed. It's one of the easiest ways you can help save people's lives in such a short space of time and walk away feeling great.

The chocolate biscuits are always a hit, too.

- Herald on Sunday

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