On Saturday July 27 I did two things, both seemingly different, but actually very similar. First, I had a haircut. The ends were very dry, so I had about 30 percent of my hair cut off. Doing so did not harm my health; on the contrary, it improved the well being of my hair in general and made me feel great!
Then I went to Beijing United Family Hospital (BJU) and participated in their third monthly community blood drive, voluntarily donating 400 ml of whole blood. Why? Back in my home country I regularly give the usual amount collected by the Australian Red Cross, 470 ml. A Chinese blood donation is usually just 200 ml.
Before leaving BJU, I was handed a Ministry of Health identification certificate and a gift of a red rose.
I set off for the nearby markets,swheresa stallholder wanted to know who gave me the flower, so I told him. I was amazed at his reaction, he was shocked that I had freely donated blood, saying I should have been paid. In China, just 1 percent of blood is provided by volunteer donors, although this is increasing as people become more educated and aware of the facts concerning blood donations. Volunteers are encouraged, but the greatest challenge is overcoming the widespread fear that donating blood is harmful to one's health.
Despite President Jiang Zemin's call to follow the scientific path, too many believe myths and misinformation. People in good health can safely donate, but the excuses given for not doing so were amazing. One woman said her doctor , now head of a famous Beijing hospital, had told her she would be permanently weakened if she gave blood. The truth is that if you are healthy then your body can easily spare the amount collected at a donation. Giving blood does not make you weak, and our body soon replaces the amount you have given. One elderly world leader was asked why he looked so young. He replied that because he was a regular blood donor, the fresh blood coursing through his veins added to his good health. In Australia, many people give 470ml of blood during their lunch-hour four times a year, and are back at work that afternoon.
I was told donors needed a week's holiday and huge meals to recover from giving 200 ml of blood in China. Unfortunately this is untrue, and it would be cheating your employer to take time off work! You should get plenty of sleep the night before, eat something before donating, relax and have a snack and drink afterwards to replenish fluids, before returning to school and work and resuming normal activities. It is best not to do strenuous exercise for a few hours and not smoke or drink alcohol for two hours. You can speed your body's recovery by drinking extra fluids for the next 24 hours and refraining from heavy muscular or strenuous activity for four hours.
A girl told me donating blood would make her gain weight. Not true. Others believe giving blood is literally giving away the essence of life. One man said, "I am not going to give part of my life away. I was told that by giving blood I also give life." Another complained that his eyesight had been affected. So many superstitious stories, with no scientific or medical basis. What is true is that giving blood saves lives.
Blood has a shelf life of 42 days; so continuing donations are essential. After processing, separated components are held for 48 hours until testing confirms they are safe for distribution, and your donation can potentially save three or more lives. Some people like to donate on their birthday or special occasions, celebrating their good health with others. Give the gift of life - give blood. It is a gift you can keep on giving.
People who need blood are of all ages and from all walks of life. So,swheresdid my blood go? I don't know, but by now it is probably flowing through the veins of someone who underwent surgery, delivered a baby, was in an accident or isshavingstreatment for leukemia or burns, or maybe a premature infant, one of China's new citizens. Whoever they are, they will never know that they are a blood brother or sister to an Australian! Like getting my hair cut, donating blood makes me feel better and it soon replenishes itself, ready for next time!