Mike McKenzie this morning became the first plasma donor in Tauranga in 12 years.
Donor recruiter Jodie Felton said people were able to donate plasma when blood was collected at the hospital but since moving to new premises that has not been an option.
"Everyone's been asking for it back. They've been asking for it for about 12 years."
From today people can again choose to donate plasma rather than regular red blood cells.
Plasma can be given every two to four weeks rather than the three month wait required for giving red blood cells,
"This is because the red blood cells are returned so the iron is also returned. All we're taking is the volume component of blood."
Plasma is taken by an apheresis machine that draws the donors' blood then separates out the plasma component which is retained. The machine then returns the rest of the blood to the donor.
The plasma collected in Tauranga will be sent to Australia to be converted into a range of pharmaceutical products such as Intragam P. The products are then sent back to New Zealand.
Intragam P is used for the treatment of primary immune deficiencies and a number of autoimmune diseases, often in cancer patients.
The demand for Intragam P in NZ is growing steadily and is predicted to continue to grow at 6% per annum for the next few years.
Ms Felton said the center has already had about 50 people express interest in giving plasma.
"To begin with we're only doing 10 a week. We're booked out for the first two weeks," she said.
She is looking for people who are willing to commit to giving plasma monthly.
Plasma donations take about half an hour longer than regular red blood cell donations.
Call the Tauranga Donor Centre on (07) 578 2194 to make an appointment.