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State-of-the-art plasma machines improve donor experience – NZ Blood Service

Plasma donors are starting to benefit from an upgraded donation experience, as New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) rolls out its new Aurora plasma donation machines across Aotearoa. These state-of-the-art machines streamline the donation process, making the process for donors more comfortable, easier and a little faster. It comes at a time when demand for plasma, known as ‘liquid gold’, is growing by more than 10 percent per year.

The Aurora machines are currently being used at the North Shore, Epsom, Manukau and Hamilton donor centres, and Auckland plasma mobile drives. Other sites across New Zealand will start using Aurora throughout 2024. NZBS received approval from Medsafe to roll out Aurora following a comprehensive trial. The machines are currently used by blood service providers overseas, including Australia.

Director of Donor Services Brett Paradine says upgrading the fleet of plasma machines will offer benefits to both donors and collections staff.

“Moving to the Aurora machine ensures NZBS keeps up to date with improvements in technology. “We know it can be tricky to schedule in a donation appointment around a busy work or personal schedule, but with these new machines each plasma donation will take a little less time thanks to the improved squeezing prompts and enhanced vein control that helps maximise flow. Some donors who have assisted in testing the machines have said that the process also felt gentler on their veins.

“For NZBS staff, a simple touch screen and a useful panel of information provides continuous updates during the donation process which makes the machine easier to operate. It also offers enhanced data collection from every donation that can be integrated into the clinical record for each donor, improving our reporting and supporting our move to a paperless process.” The introduction of Aurora in New Zealand comes at a time when the need for plasma is higher than ever. Plasma is the gold-coloured liquid that makes up just over half of our blood, and is responsible for carrying blood cells, water, proteins and clotting factors around the body.

NZBS needs to collect more than 2600 plasma donations each week to meet demand. On average, it is currently collecting around 1850 donations per week, so the service is encouraging more people to volunteer and donate to help achieve the extra 750 donations per week needed to help patients in New Zealand who rely on plasma.

Often referred to as ‘liquid gold’, plasma can be turned into 11 lifesaving treatments that can help cancer patients, trauma and burns victims, pregnant women and those with auto-immune diseases, blood-clotting issues and compromised immune systems.

The increased demand for plasma is driven by a growing need for immunoglobulins. Many patients who rely on immunoglobulins require lifelong treatment, some as frequently as once a week.

NZBS has ordered 137 Aurora machines to replace its Haemonetics machines, which have come to the end of their life.


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