First timers and regulars, young and old have donated blood this week in Whangarei.

Around 500 people have each given about 7-8 per cent of their total blood volume while the mobile blood clinic was visiting.

Spyke Spykerman, co-ordinator of the blood drives, said the turnout has been good with 235,000ml of blood donated over the week.

Brooke Ellis, 17, went down to the Cricket Association yesterday during her study break to donate for the first time. A group of her friends also donated during their lunch break.


"I don't know why you wouldn't," she said.

Northland has a total of 2383 active donors, with those in Whangarei donating the most blood of the region.

Charles Frische, aged 73, donates three or four times a year and gave his 27,260th ml of blood yesterday.

"This is my 58th time. I'm aiming for the big 60."

The number of people involved in accidents and needing blood transfusions is what drives him to come back every time NZ Blood Service is in town.

There is still no plan to remove the ban on those donating blood who have lived in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996 and those who have received transfusions in the country since 1980 from donating blood.

Scott Sinclair of NZ Blood Service said the only way to test for Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (human mad cow disease) is by screening the brain and to do so would be " going too far".

He said the organisation still gets enough blood from people who haven't been exposed and the risk is too high to remove the ban when people are still dying of the disease today. "We have one of the safest bloods in the world and that is due to the criteria we have in place."

Thomas Fahey, 17, also donated for the first time yesterday and said he thinks it's a great way to help people.

Mr Spykerman said some people have had to be turned away this week in Whangarei because of medical or age reasons.

Around 3000 blood donations are needed every week to meet the needs of New Zealand hospitals. NZ Blood Service visits the Northland towns of Kaikohe, Dargaville, Kerikeri, Kaitaia as well as Whangarei multiple times a year. Just this week they have released a new app called NZ Blood Service Donor App where you can see when your upcoming appointments are, be notified when your blood type is urgently needed and see your donor history.

Eligibility criteria:

- New donors must be aged 16 to 66
- Existing donors can donate up until they're 71
- Must weigh at least 50kg
- Have something to eat and plenty to drink that day
- Have no infections, flu, cold sores or stomach bugs
- Must not have lived in the UK, France or the Republic of Ireland between 1980 and 1996 for six months or more
- Have to wait: 3 months since last donation; 6 months after getting a tattoo; 9 months after birth of a baby; 3 months after stopping breastfeeding a baby; 24 hours after minor
dental work and 1 month after major dental work.