New Blood Centre provides lifeblood for Christchurch

The Minister of Health’s opening of the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) Christchurch Blood Centre at 15 Lester Lane is a significant milestone for the Blood Service, with the centre set to become the lifeblood of the South Island as its new southern headquarters.

Opened on Monday 10 November by Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health, the two-storey building plays a vital role as one of NZBS’s two main facilities, alongside Auckland’s Epsom Blood Centre and supported by Wellington and Waikato. In the case of a major catastrophe at the Auckland centre, Christchurch will be able to meet the needs of all of New Zealand, as the centre comprises of a blood donor centre, manufacturing and testing laboratories and specialised storage for blood and blood products.

Fiona Ritsma, CEO of New Zealand Blood Service says, “Our new state-of-the-art Christchurch Blood Centre with its advanced technology has been purpose-built for NZBS by Ngāi Tahu Property Ltd, with the donor experience and safety of New Zealand’s blood supply at the heart of its design.

“The donor centre is very warm, inviting and brightly coloured to make all of our generous donors feel relaxed and at home. It’s packed with all of the essentials – 19 comfy donor couches, tea and coffee and of course chocolate biscuits to ensure our donors have a great experience every time they donate.

“We will be sad to leave the Riccarton Centre, which welcomed more than 80,955 generous donors, who provided over 163,383 whole blood donations, 14,305 plateletpheresis donations and 58,254 plasmapheresis donations since opening its doors 15 years ago. With each donation having the potential to save up to three lives, Cantabrian blood donors have saved the lives of over 721,097 fellow Kiwis– nearly twice the population of Christchurch!

“We look forward to welcoming our wonderful, loyal blood donors from all over Canterbury to our new donor centre, as well as new donors who want to roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life,” says Fiona.

On average, Christchurch needs 292 new donors every month to keep up with the constant demand for blood and blood products, and yet only 2.3% of those eligible to donate in Christchurch currently donate blood, according to New Zealand Blood Service’s latest donor statistics.

The Christchurch Blood Centre is one of seven centres around the country at which plasma donations can be made, and NZBS needs another 3,000 plasma donors nationwide to join this group to meet the projected demand for next year.

The blood centre was designed as an Importance Level 3 building (1.3 times the strength of the current Building Code) because of its vital role as an essential health service to provide blood and blood products to Kiwis up and down the country. It was constructed to ensure it can withstand strong seismic activity.

Owned by developers Ngāi Tahu Property, the donor centre was blessed by Ngāi Tahu on Tuesday 21st October. As part of the blessing, a significant piece of greenstone gifted from Kāti Waewae Rūnanga on the West Coast was unveiled and sits proudly in the foyer.

Ngāi Tahu Property Chief Executive Tony Sewell says the success of the project is a tribute to the excellent working relationships of all the teams involved.

“Because of the specialist nature of the building and unique requirements, careful and thorough consultation and planning was needed. I am proud to say the building was finished ahead of time and just below budget. We are looking forward to a long and enduring partnership with the New Zealand Blood Service and being the first group to roll up our sleeves and donate blood in the new centre,” says Mr Sewell.

To book an appointment to donate or for more information, please call 0800 GIVE BLOOD or visit www.nzblood.co.nz.