Thursday, January 13, 2011

The gift of life... let's donate blood!

Hey guys,

I'm doing a bit of CSR here. 

Forever thinking of lending a helping hand to the community but have no resources (money) to do so?

There will be a blood donation drive to be held at the AmpWalk building as follows:

Date    : 18th January 2011 (Tuesday)
Time   : 10.00 am to 3.00 pm
Venue : Level 10, South Block, The AmpWalk, 218 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
(next to Sucasa Service Apartment, across the road from Victoria Station. See Map to to AmpWalk)

Come join us! or help us to spread the words!

Picture courtesy of caption-this.com

Nothing is more valuable than the gift of life for those in need.

Some stories from blood donators:

The gift of life


Donating blood not only saves lives, it will make you happier and healthier too.
GIVE blood to save lives.” That was the motto that inspired Wong Mon Heng, a 59-year-old businessman, to continue donating blood since his first donation about 22 years ago.

It started with curiosity. Although Wong knew what he was getting into when a few of Wong’s friends invited him to donate blood together, he was still intrigued.

Dr Norris Naim ... The first benefit one gets from 
donating blood is the joy from performing an altruistic 
act, which is difficult to explain physiologically 
because it is more psychological and emotional.
“The company I was working at that time had a six-monthly blood donation drive, and I would see hundreds of people – doctors, nurses and the donors – at the event. It was very interesting,” he explains.

“So, at the beginning, it was just a matter of my friends calling me up, I was curious, we went together, and after that, it felt like it is my duty to donate blood,” he says with a wide grin.

Since then, Wong dutifully visited hospitals, blood banks or blood donation drives every three to four months. It was only one year ago that he started to donate his platelets every two to three weeks at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre Transfusion Medicine Unit in Kuala Lumpur. (see types of blood donation)

Last Thursday, when this writer met him at the UMMC Transfusion Medicine Unit, he was waiting to perform his 76th donation.

“I will continue donating as long as the hospital and patients still needs my blood. All it takes is just one phone call, and I will be here,” he says.

Altruistic bliss
Such altruism and commitment is not uncommon among regular blood donors. In fact, it is often the unconditional desire to extend a helping hand to those who need it that keeps donors coming back every time they are able to give blood, says Dr Indra Ratnam, senior medical officer at the UMMC Transfusion Medicine Unit.

“Blood donors usually never get to see the people whose lives they save, and yet many of them still donate unconditionally,” she says.

The awareness about blood donation is increasing, but there are those who still have misconceptions about the charitable act, explains Dr Hemalatha Shanmugam, a haematologist the UMMC Transfusion Medicine Unit.

“Sometimes they are afraid that blood donation is not good for them – that they will lose blood, get infections, and sometimes gain weight,” she says. And it often takes a friend or a family member’s encouragement to convince them that blood donation is not only life-saving, it is also beneficial to the donor.

“They would rather trust the words of a friend,” Dr Hemalatha notes. And as the population of the current blood donors age, new regular blood donors – young people dedicated to the cause – is needed, she adds.

Forest botanist Lim Chung Lu, 27, would fit the bill. Lim, who now donates blood consistently three times a year, remembered waiting for the day of his first donation to come.

 Even when she could not donate blood, Pastor Sia Siew Chin 
does her part by promoting blood donation among her friends.
After his father explained the benefits of blood donation, his desire to donate blood was reinforced when he learnt about the advantages of blood donation through reports in newspapers and over the radio. He donated his blood for the first time when he reached 17 years old. (Those who wish to donate when they are 17-years-old will need the consent of their parents and guardians)

“It was like a dream come true, and I am proud of myself for being able to help others,” he said. He plans to donate as long as he can.

32-year-old army personnel Indra Sahrin donates his blood whenever he could. After donating whole blood for eight years, he recently opted to donate his plasma every two to three weeks.

“As I earn just enough to support my family, this is my way to contribute back to society,” he says.

Give and you shall receive
The first benefit one gets from donating blood is the joy from performing an altruistic act, which is difficult to explain physiologically because it is more psychological and emotional, says Dr Norris Naim, a consultant at the National Blood Bank in Kuala Lumpur.

“Basically, you would feel good,” he explains.

Indeed, most regular blood donors will be able to share that they actually feel healthier and more energetic after donating blood.

While some studies have shown that blood donation can help one reduce excess iron in the body, it is also known that blood donation could also help stimulate the bone marrow to produce new blood cells for the body.

After new red blood cells (the blood cells that are responsible for delivering oxygen to the various tissues in our body) are produced by our bone marrow, they enter the bloodstream and circulate in our body for 100 to 120 days before they are destroyed in the spleen. These cells will then be replaced by new ones produced in the bone marrow.

When we donate blood, we remove some of these old red blood cells (which are less efficient in carrying oxygen) and our bone marrow will be prompted to produce new ones. The fresh supply of red blood cells will then be able to supply adequate oxygen to body tissues, leaving the donor feeling refreshed and more energetic.

“Usually, they will tell you they feel ‘lighter’,” says director of the National Blood Bank Dr Roshida Hassan.

Although Malaysia encourages voluntary and non-renumerated blood donation (donors are not paid), Malaysian government hospitals offer privileges such as free hepatitis B vaccinations and ward stays for its blood donors as a token of appreciation.

Wong Mon Heng...I will continue donating as long as 
the hospital and patients still needs my blood. All it takes 
is just one phone call, and I will be here. In this photo, 
Wong is donating his platelets at the Universiti Malaya 
Medical Centre Transfusion Medicine Unit.
The right timing
While the blood donated by an estimated 2% of eligible blood donors in Malaysia is adequate to meet the overall demands for blood transfusions, there can be shortages of blood supply during specific times of the year.

Getting enough blood supply during festivals and school or college holidays are especially challenging because donors are often away on holiday or celebrating with their families back in their hometowns, and organisers are less inclined to hold blood donation drives during those times.

“So, we hope we can motivate donors and organisations to support us throughout the year. We want to maintain a consistent blood supply,” says Dr Roshida.

Unfortunately, as there are conditions that may render a person unable to donate blood (see Blood donation 101), there is always something everyone can do to help make blood donation in Malaysia a success.

Even if you could not donate, you could tell a friend about the benefits of blood donation, organise a blood donation drive, or send an SMS out to inform others about blood donation opportunities. Every effort counts.

To find out more about blood donation and where you can donate blood, please visit the National Blood Bank’s website at www.pdn.org.my.