“We know that a unit of blood can save three person’s lives. So if you multiply the 4000 units that Tzu Chi collected last year by three, it could save as many as 12,000 people. If you ask me how Tzu Chi has helped us, I can tell you for sure that it has indeed made a difference to our National Blood Programme.”
That was Ms Cecilia Tan, the Director of Singapore Red Cross Society’s Blood Donor Recruitment Programme, sharing her observation at the World Blood Donor Day celebratory event at the Singapore Flyer on 16 June.
The global theme of this year’s World Blood Donor Day campaign, “Every blood donor is a hero” focuses on the idea that everyone can become a hero by giving blood. While recognizing the silent and unsung heroes who save lives every day through their blood donations, the theme also strongly encourages more people all over the world to donate blood voluntarily and regularly.
Hailed as “one of the pioneering Bloodmobile organizers” by the Bloodbank@HSA, Tzu Chi Singapore’s involvement in bloodmobile organizing stemmed from the year 2003 when the SARS outbreak affected the local blood-giving rate and the Singapore Red Cross issued an urgent appeal for organizations to help organize blood donation drives at community level while implementing tightened screening to allay blood donors’ fear of exposure to SARS.
The first blood donation drive held by the Foundation was at its previous premise at Outram Park on 16 June 2003. Coming to the 10th year now, the Foundation continues to organize quarterly blood donation drive at its premise as well as at the Jurong Medical Centre to help sustain Bloodbank’s blood supply. On top of that, the Foundation started assisting SRC in organizing monthly drives in July 2009 in Toa Payoh Community Club (CC) and Nee Soon East CC and has now expanded to cover Tampines CC and Tzu Chi Free Health Screening Centre in Jurong East, all with the support from its community volunteers.
SRC Blood Donor Recruitment Programme manager Ms Angeline Yong commented on the effort that “the most remarkable thing is the one-to-one publicity outreach that Tzu Chi volunteers give to potential blood donors”.
“The most touching point from your volunteers is that they’re very uniformed and disciplined. I can also feel the compassionate value that you share because I've not been to only once, but twice the annual celebration as well as the anniversary of Tzu Chi. Your volunteer deployment is something we can definitely look to as a role model. I think to be able to do so, at such a large scale in Singapore, is very touching.”
Tzu Chi Singapore is one of the 35 organizations which received recognition at the award ceremony. Mr Tee Tua Ba, the Chairman of SRC, noted in his speech that the demand for blood is anticipated to increase with an aging population and with the use of more sophisticated medical procedures requiring blood support.
“Currently, only 1.8% of our residential population are blood donors. To ensure there is adequate blood supply to match increasing population growth, there is a need to increase the pool of donors to 2 to 3% of our residential population in the coming years,” remarked Mr Tee. The SRC is currently actively reaching out to more youth “to grow the spirit of giving blood so they make regular donations part of their lifestyle”.
The Gold Award is a solid affirmation to the effort of our Foundation and our volunteers, but it is also a beautiful testament to the dedication of the many Singaporeans who give the Gift of Life with unconditional love.
To donate blood, you may visit Bloodbank@HSA at 11 Outram Road or Bloodbank@Woodlands at 900 South Woodlands Drive #05-07 Woodlands Civic Centre.