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NOBLE TASK: Just walk into any blood bank or hospital and you'll be more than welcome
IT doesn't take much to be a hero. If one donates one pint (half a litre) of blood in any hospital, one qualifies to be a hero. Last Thursday, under the patronage of the Malaysian Red Crescent (MRC), some 200 people donated blood in a worldwide campaign.
June 14 every year is World Blood Donation Day, a date set by the World Health Organisation to drum up awareness and support for a noble cause. Throughout the world last Thursday, heroes gathered to give their pint, which is an exercise that some individuals will repeat throughout their lives.
One such person is Sarawakian Ismail Ibrahim, 54, who first gave his pint 32 years ago. He has not stopped since. The MRC brought him to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday as an example of a person whose unselfish nature has helped save many lives.
Donating one's blood may not be an automatic thought, as Ismail recounted. Together with a cousin, he was involved in a nasty accident and was told that his cousin was in dire need of a blood transfusion.
Ismail's reaction was automatic, and he has been repeating that every three months.
One never knows the value of blood donation until one encounters a situation where a pint of blood can make a difference between life and death. While giving one's blood is a noble thing to do, it is not an automatic exercise.
There are eligibility requirements. This is to ensure the safety of donors and recipients. Apart from being healthy, donors must be at least 17 years old and 50kg in weight. Then again, certain blood donation centres may have other requirements that have to be fulfilled before one can donate.
In Malaysia, the National Blood Bank has adopted a new policy: it's open every day, including weekends.
Such is the need for blood transfusion that any healthy person can walk in to give blood, provided the person meets all the health requirements.
One look at Ismail will dispel the myth that blood donation makes a person become fat or obese. When asked whether he would stop donating, Ismail said the thought had never crossed his mind. "As long as I'm healthy, I'll keep donating," the father of two declared.
Last Thursday, it was heartening to see several busloads of volunteers from National Service camps lining up to donate blood. Some of these young people didn't hide their fear of the needle, but all fears vanished when they saw their fellow trainees smiling away as they donated blood. Everyone was expecting to see Ismail giving his pint, but he was ineligible. He had donated in April and has to wait until next month before he can do so again. There are a number of dos and don'ts pertaining to blood donation, but they are nothing that the average person cannot follow.
If you wish to be a hero, and play your part in saving lives, just walk into any blood bank or hospital and you'll be more than welcome. Have a good meal at least three hours before donating (this is not a requirement but more of a guide), and avoid alcohol at least 48 hours before donating.
See you at the blood bank soon, hero!