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Helping others . . . Gaylene Paterson makes her 121st blood donation in Oamaru. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Crowds of people filled the Oamaru Club last week as the New Zealand Blood Service made its way into town.

Oamaru woman Gaylene Paterson was one of many who flocked to the club to donate blood.

Although she does not like to beat her chest about it, Mrs Paterson is proud to have been a blood donor for nearly 35 years.

She made her first donation when she was a pupil at Gore High School.

That donation was memorable for Mrs Paterson because she watched a teacher faint from the sight of blood.

“She fainted, and it was so embarrassing for her.”

The driving force behind her willingness to give blood was the passion she had for helping others.

“It was just one of those things I wanted to do.

“I thought it was a worthwhile thing to help people in the community.”

The most satisfying part about giving blood was knowing you would be saving lives, she said.

“You just feel like you’ve contributed something.”

Giving blood was also something her husband and one of her daughters enjoyed doing.

Mrs Paterson was thrilled at the number of secondary school pupils that turned up to donate blood at the event.

“It’s nice seeing these high school students doing the same thing and helping out other people,” she said.

She hoped many more in the community would have a go at donating blood.

“The procedure is painless and you recover quickly,” she said.

Last Thursday was World Blood Donor Day.

This year will also mark 20 years since the New Zealand Blood Service was established.