New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is asking eligible, fit and healthy New Zealanders to book an appointment to donate blood.

The service has had up to a 30 per cent increase in the number of cancellations and 'no-shows' in the past week which is possibly because of COVID-19 concerns amongst donors.

"We are asking all eligible healthy blood donors to book an appointment, and keep commitments to donate blood," said Asuka Burge, National Manager Marketing and Communications, New Zealand Blood Service.

"NZBS needs to collect 3500 donations every week to keep up with demand across the country, and we are seeing an increasing number of cancellations and empty chairs in our donor centres.

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"Our donor centres are safe places to visit, and we are taking all necessary steps to ensure this stays that way."

NZBS has strict blood donor screening measures in place, which include travel deferrals, to ensure individuals who are unwell, or have recently travelled to high-risk countries are deferred from donating.

"Absolutely, if a donor is feeling unwell, they should reschedule or cancel their appointment, but please let us know. Every no-show or cancelled appointment impacts the blood supply and the availability of blood to treat patients in hospitals.

"If we know someone is not coming, we can try to fill their appointment space," says Asuka.

"Unlike toilet paper, blood cannot be stockpiled. Whole blood has a shelf life of just 35 days, which means we must ensure we can continue to meet demand on a weekly basis.

"Our current concern is that without a steady number of donations, the blood supply may run into critical levels. This is why we need fit, healthy, eligible Kiwis to book appointments and continue to donate."

To book an appointment to donate visit www.nzblood.co.nz or call 0800 448 325.

NZBS has a dedicated working group of experts that includes medical staff and donor care teams to closely monitoring global developments in relation to COVID-19 and advising on any specific actions required.

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There is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible by blood transfusion.

Any person who has had COVID-19 must wait four weeks after they are free from all symptoms before they can give blood