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Android App Review: NZ Blood Service

Donating blood is a hugely important and generous thing that nearly all of us should be doing more than we are. But even with the best of intentions it’s not always easy to find the time, to figure out where to go, or to match the free slots in their timetable with the free slots in yours. To make things easier the NZ Blood Service has its own app that lets you find out where and when you can give blood in your area.

While there will plenty of people who just can’t bring themselves to deal with needles, for others the barrier that stops them giving blood is just access. Where do you even go to do that? Sometimes there’s the blood bus parked at Auckland Uni (is it officially called the Blood Bus? I hope so), but other than that I’d be at a loss to tell you where you can go to give blood, let alone who to call to find out.

The app solves this problem simply and clearly. You can search either by typing in your area or postcode, or by using your phone’s current location. The app gives you a list of local places to donate, and once you’ve chosen one it gives you a calendar of available days and times for you to make a booking. If you’ve registered with the app it’ll use your info to book you in, and it’s all sorted without you having to leave the house. Much better than wandering over when you see the bus parked up, only to find that their needles are all booked up that day, and their only free slot tomorrow is when you have a lecture (for example).

There’s the occasional weird glitch: changing the search radius (the default is 25 km) made the drop down menu for donating whole-blood or plasma disappear, and then when I pressed the ‘use current location’ button the app refused to do anything. Exiting out of the page and coming back to it solved the problem, but it was still a bit of an annoyance in what is otherwise a pretty solid and workable app.

The Blood Service app won’t make dealing with needles any easier – that’s something you’re going to have to come to terms with on your own. But it does make it easier to find somewhere to donate blood and get you booked in to do it, which is a big step in the right direction.