About Blood, Bone Marrow and Organ Donation


What is blood?

An essential for life- Human Blood has two main components:

1. Plasma: which is mostly water; dissolved in the plasma are nutrients, hormones and waste products.

2. Cells and parts of cells: that are suspended in the plasma.

These include:

White Blood cells- part of the immune system.

Red Blood cells- used to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from cells of the body.

Platelets- which help form clots.


-Clear, yellowish fluid

-90% water/10% dissolved substances (eg proteins and electrolytes).

-The protein and electrolytes in plasma are essential for life and are pumped around the body by the heart to diffuse into tissues and cells where they are needed.

Red Blood Cells (Erythrocytes)

-Comprise 90% of our blood cells giving blood its red colour.

-Made in the bone marrow, each Red Blood Cell has a life span of about 4 months.

-Red Blood Cells carry oxygen around the body- this is their primary function- every cell in our body needs oxygen at all times.

- Each Red Blood Cell is shaped like a donut, concave on both sides, so it has lots of surface area to hold and release oxygen.

White  Blood Cells

-Help our bodies fight infection from foreign invaders. they are like soldiers floating around in the blood waiting to act invaders such as viruses and bacteria.

-In a normal adult body, there are 4,000 to 10,000 White Blood Cells per microliter of blood.

-White Blood Cells are actually a collection of different cells that work together as an army to destroy invading germs (bacteria and viruses).


Tiny oval-shaped cells made in the bone marrow. They help in the clotting process.

-When a blood vessel breaks, platelets gather in the area and help seal off the leak.

-Platelets survive only about 9 days in the bloodstream and are constantly being replaced by new cells

-Platelets and clotting factors work together to form solid lumps to seal leaks, wounds, cuts and scratches and to prevent bleeding inside and on the surface of our bodies.

To find out more;







Your specialist medical team will discuss with you when a Bone Marrow Transplant is being considered as a treatment option for your child, explaining clinical details the procedure and what to expect . They will ask about medical history and do a physical exam.  A range of additional patient information has been developed to answer these types of questions.

A bone marrow transplant is a procedure to replace damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells.

Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue inside your bones. The bone marrow produces blood cells. Stem cells are immature cells in the bone marrow that give rise to all of your different blood cells.

A bone marrow transplant replaces bone marrow that is either not working properly or has been destroyed (ablated) by chemotherapy or radiation. Doctors believe that for many cancers, the donor's white blood cells may attack any remaining cancer cells, similar to when white cells attack bacteria or viruses when fighting an infection.

Your doctor may recommend a bone marrow transplant if you have:

Your health care provider will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. You will have many tests before treatment begins.

Before transplant, you will have one or two tubes, called catheters, inserted into a blood vessel in your neck or arms. This tube allows you to receive treatments, fluids, and sometimes nutrition. It is also used to draw blood.

Your provider will likely discuss the emotional stress of having a bone marrow transplant. You may want to meet with a counselor. It is important to talk to your family and children to help them understand what to expect.

You will need to make plans to help you prepare for the procedure and handle tasks after your transplant:

Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant involves an extended hospital admission at Starship National Children's Hospital . If you are from outside of Auckland you can learn about what to expect on admission to Starship here, as well as local facilities nearby. The Foundation can assist with weekly visits and assistance towards hospital parking  and caregiver meal expenses.

During the Bone Marrow Transplant period families often have friends and close relatives visit from outside of Auckland. Accommodation options close to the hospital include . The Foundation has a furnished home in Red Beach which may also be booked for this purpose, contact support staff for details. Make contact with our support staff to let us know when you expect to be admitted for scheduled treatment or clinics. It is our aim to offer one -on- one practical support as needed by each family.

Once the patient is recovering from surgery and discharged from the ward , there is usually a period where the family are asked to stay close by the hospital if from outside of Auckland. Our Red Beach and Mangawhai Heads Respite homes are often used by families at this point , allowing some freedom as the patient  recuperates and family unit can enjoy private time together away from the hospital. Talk to support staff if you are interested in accessing these facilities.

There is a collection of  sample patient stories on our website; KIDS Foundation has a network of patient members that have been through Bone Marrow Transplants, if you feel it might be helpful to connect with another family please get in touch with us and we will help arrange this for you with a suitable family.

We also host a number of patient events throughout the year that in time you may want to participate in to widen your contacts.

Any other questions or problems please do not hesitate to contact our support staff .


More New Zealanders are choosing organ donation than ever before, with over $1,850,000 drivers ticking the 'yes' box on their driver licence this year.

However, what many donors may not know is that even though donor information is recorded on your driver licence , at the time of death, the decision to donate your organs lies with your family.

New Zealand's Organ Donation programme thus far is showing good results, with 53 deceased organ donors recorded in 2015, up 15% from the 46 donors in 2014 and a 47% increase from the 36 donors in 2013. In 2015 there were also 78 live donors who donated a kidney or a part of the liver to 78 recipients.

These 53 deceased organ donors donated organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidney or pancreas) to 158 transplant recipients  in 2015, a 14% increase from the 138 recipients in 2014. As a result of both deceased donors and live donors, the number of New Zealand organ transplant recipients rose  to 232 in 2015 (the largest number ever) from 214 in 2014- an 8% increase.

Organ Donation NZ says the most important step when you have made a decision about becoming an organ donor is to tell your family your wishes and let them know which organ and tissues you are willing to donate. They also recommend finding out what other members of your family want.

If you are wondering why to donate, you don't have to look far within Kids Foundation to find families whose lives have been changed forever through organ donation. There is no greater gift than a second chance at life.

When and how does organ donation happen?

While more than 1 million people have indicated their wish to donate organs on their drivers licence, only a small number of people however will die in circumstances that makes it possible for organs to be donated for transplantation. People who die at the scene of an accident or die from heart attacks for example, cannot donate organs for transplantation. This is because once the heart stops and there is a period  of time when the organs have no blood and oxygen supply, the organs will not be suitable for donation.

Organ donation most commonly takes place when a person has suffered a severe and irreversible injury tot eh brain, from bleeding  in the brain or from trauma. He/she will be on a ventilator, in a hospital ICU and brain death will have been determined. More recently in NZ organ donation is possible when a person is again on a ventilator in an intensive care unit with a non survivable head injury but is not brain dead.

When and how does tissue donation happen?

Tissue donation can include heart valves, eyes (cornea) , and skin donation. Corneal transplantation will restore sight, heart valve transplantation will give improved health and skin transplantations can prevent death for patients with severe burn. Many more people can donate tissues for transplantation as donation is not restricted to those who die in an intensive care unit from an irreversible brain injury.

www.donor.co.nz ;  Organ Donation New Zealand

0800 4 DONOR

Brochures and Materials




Resource Downloads