As one of New Zealand’s most generous plasma donors, the Greytown resident visits his local blood centre as regularly as he can to help those who need it most.
What was the catalyst for you becoming a plasma donor?
I lost my father to cancer. Plasma and blood is extremely important to cancer and road trauma patients, so I had been thinking about donating for a very long time. In 2010, I made it a New Year resolution and I’ve been donating ever since – more than 160 times.
How does it differ to giving blood?
The plasma is separated from the blood, which is then transferred back into the body. That way, because your body isn’t required to regenerate blood, you can donate plasma more regularly. I aim for once a fortnight. You don’t feel a thing and it’s about an hour-long process. The New Zealand Blood Service is short on donors, so I send a plea to all Members to donate if they’re healthy and able to do so. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing you’re helping someone in need.
What does a typical day look like when you’re not saving lives?
No two days are the same. My job comprises of a range of functions and activities geared to ensure that every manager and staff member in the 17 AA Centres throughout the region I manage understand all aspects of their roles. It’s important they deliver quality customer service to everyone who comes into their Centres. There are eight districts in the region I cover – including Bay of Plenty, Whanganui, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington.
Sounds like you’d need to be pretty organised to do your job!
I’ve been doing it for so long now (I’ve been with the AA for 31 years) that it’s ingrained in me and has become part and parcel of my every day. While good organisational skills are important, I’m a people person first and foremost. I need to understand the lives and dreams of staff; where in their career they want to get to and how the Association can help get them there.
That’s a long tenure – you must love what you do.
The AA is a wonderful, family-focused organisation. When I tell people I work for the AA, 99% of reactions are incredibly positive. People love sharing how the Association has helped them over the years. It’s a wonderfully warm feeling to hear that; it gives me goose bumps.
What are the most notable changes you’ve witnessed within the Association during your three decades?
The launch of AA Insurance under our own brand in the mid 1990s. And later, when we gave up travel as a major part of Centre activity in the late 1990s. AA Travel used to be one of the largest travel agencies in New Zealand. Another huge milestone was introducing driver licencing to the Centres on May 3, 1999. I remember the day clearly.
What can Members expect from their local AA Centre today?
Driver licencing and vehicle registration is still a big part of what we do. So too is selling our insurance policies: general, life, health, pet and travel.
Where will we find you when you’re not working or donating plasma?
I am retiring at the end of 2021. I have seven grandchildren and another on the way, which will keep me busy, and I plan on spending more time river fishing. Once travel resumes, I will live in Poland with my wife who’s of Polish decent three months of the year, enjoying the European summer.
Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Autumn 2021 issue