Topic: Health

Teina Terei's whānau help expand blood and bone marrow register

By Talisa Kupenga
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Pio Terei is keeping his youngest son's memory alive through a trust encouraging Māori and Pasifika youth to become blood and bone marrow donors. Teina passed away last year of leukaemia and was too ill to receive a transfusion. The Trust Teina Foundation hopes to get more youth on board to give others a fighting chance.

Youth sign up to a cause close to the Terei family's heart.

First-time donors told Te Kāea it was about "giving back to the community."

"It's a good cause to help people in need of blood," says one.

"I want to do it for people to save their life and to make people happy," say another.

Although 17-year-old Teina Terei passed away August last year, the trust bearing his name aims to increase the number of registered Māori and Pasifika blood and bone marrow donors.

Teina’s father Pio Terei says, "It's a legacy for our boy, I mean, he touched so many people. He worked here at [Westwave] gym. They're actually naming a room after him, so even though today is filled with joy it's also filled with huge mamae [sadness] that he's not here."

Māori and Pasifika blood donors are a minority group in New Zealand and when it comes to the 31 million bone marrow donors worldwide, these groups account for less than 9,500 people.

NZ Blood Service spokesman Nephi Arthur says the way bone marrow is now taken from donors has significantly changed.

"The new way we collect bone marrow is we give you a drug for four days that stimulates your bone marrow growth, it brings out your bone marrow into your blood stream and you donate it just like you're donating blood. So if you can donate blood you’re an ideal candidate to donate bone marrow."

Only 12 people donated bone marrow last year. One of Teina's best friends, Oryn Tusani, donated blood for the first time at the blood drive. He says knowing the difficulties his friend faced motivated him to help.

"I just hope that more of the bros, more of the boys just come through. It isn't that bad actually. I think the biggest part is just helping out someone in need and keeping my bro's name and legacy alive."

Trust Teina added 15 bone marrow donors and 95 new blood donors to the register yesterday.