Singapore needs more blood donation to save others

Below is the translation of the article featuring our inspiring blood donors from Tamil Murasu, on 17 July 2016.

Singapore needs more blood donation to save others

Shanmugam Elangovan a 26 year old entrepreneur has donated blood 44 times. He will be reaching his 50th donation soon.

Many years ago, his uncle met with an accident and was fighting for his life.

There was not enough blood in the hospital. His life was saved after relatives and comrades in army donated blood based on request. Hearing this incident from his grandmother made him think to get himself involved in blood donation to save lives.

"It is very scary to think of the situation if the blood bank does not have enough blood when you loved ones are in need. The blood we store in the blood bank will be useful for us and our relatives,"said Mr Shanmugam.

With his parents permission, he started donating blood at the age of 16 and still continues to do it. He donated whole blood regularly currently looking into apheresis donation as some times parties require only part of the blood like ‘platelets’, ‘plasma’ of blood cells.

It takes 1.5 hours to donate blood platelets and 45 minutes for donating blood plasma. One can do apheresis donation once every month. These blood cells are needed for people recovering for burns.

He does blood and apheresis donation regularly and is also involved in organ donation. In 5 years time, he would like to start a community foundation that serves the less privileged with groceries and organize blood donation drives.

A way to celebrate health

In 2000, volume of blood reduced considerably Madam N.Lalitha and blood transfusion was required. After getting well because of blood donation from others, Madam Lalitha decided to do her part and help others.

She started involving in blood donation after the age of 40 and donates at least 3 times every year.

Madam Lalitha, 56, encourages her friends and family to donate blood. To take her contribution to the next level, as a volunteer of Amirtheswari Society, she conducts blood donation camps in temples and community centers.

She says that fear could be one of the reasons why people are not coming forward to donate blood.

These include fear of pain when using needles, fear of getting weak and more.

There are procedures used in blood bank to withdraw blood without pain. Madam Lalitha takes part in the blood donation awareness campaign conducted by Singapore Red cross and she says she will be happy of more members of the public come forward to donate because of this.

Blood donation has be become a routine in her family. Her 4 children go to temple and donate blood in the blood bank. “I consider donating blood is a way to celebrate health. Iam very happy that my children are following this religiously,” says Madam Lalitha.

Mother's life saved, thanks to blood donation 

About 39 years ago, Mr. Nandakumar Gabriel’s mother who was affected by a uterus problem required blood to save her life. At that time Mr. Gabriel was 14 years old.

“During those times it was very rare to hear about blood donation. But, five people came forward to save my mother’s life” says Mr. Gabriel.

Realizing that his mother’s life was saved because at a time where blood donation was needed, Mr. Gabriel thought that he should also help others. He started donation blood from the age of 18.

Till date he has donated 160 times. Along with him his wife, son and 2 daughters donate blood.

Mr. Gabriel aged 53 years, who works as a financial consultant says people have a fear when you talk to them about blood donation. The fear among them include fear of needles, fear of falling sick, fear of becoming fat says Mr. Gabriel.

Only healthy people can donate blood. According to him, donating blood often is a sign of good health.

Blood donation has become very simple compared to the old days when he used to donate blood at Singapore General hospital, he recalled. Today, modern devices are used to collect blood. One can done blood in an air conditioned room watching a television.

There is a common opinion that “when there is a need someone will come forward to donate blood”.

The mentality among people about blood donation should change. The situation will change only if the awareness is made during the young age, he added. 

Lifesaving donation

"Healthy folks should come forward to donate more. The best of donations is blood donation and it doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t cause any inconvenience. It gives a great satisfaction of saving lives and every healthy individual should come forward to do this great donation," said Mr. Benjamin William, Secretary General of Singapore Red Cross.

Only 1.8% of Singapore’s population donates blood. The great donation of this small group of people is helping save lives during emergency such as accident and surgeries. 400 units of blood are needed in Singapore every day. At any point of time, at least 6 days supply of blood bags is kept in ingapore to address emergencies.

To sustain this, it is important for many people have to come forward to donate blood, he added. 

(Photo: Mr Gabriel with his family / Tamil Murasu)