Roll up your sleeves: Donate blood to help the needy

Ashish Maskay
The community needs you desperately and the right time to donate blood is NOW!
Ashish Maskay

Editor's note:

Ashish Maskay, 51, is a 2022 Shanghai Magnolia Gold Award winner from Nepal. Having spent more than one-third of his life in the city, he is famous in the expatriate and local communities partly for blood donation activities. In this article, he elaborates on the blood donor pool in Shanghai and provides a call from City News Service and Bloodline. If you have any questions, e-mail to Bloodline at surgeonam@me.com.

Roll up your sleeves: Donate blood to help the needy

Imagine this scenario: A family was told recently during a medical examination of their sick child that she has a blood disorder and that she will need chemotherapy. The family was devastated by the news. During the course of the treatment, the doctors told the family that the child will need blood transfusions as her blood values are very low due to the effects of chemotherapy. They were also told that they may have to wait at least until after the Chinese New Year holiday for the blood supply. The family is worried that their child may not make it. It will not be a happy Chinese New Year for this family.

Shanghai blood supplies have been greatly affected because of the dwindling size of regular donors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, as the Chinese New Year is a period that the city annually experiences a decline in its blood donor pool, blood supplies have become alarmingly low.

The city counts on the good will of her citizens to ensure a steadily available source of her blood pool. Like for our young girl mentioned above, blood products are necessary to help patients survive cancer treatment, bleedings during delivery, surgical procedures, chronic illnesses and trauma. Blood products cannot be artificially created and need to come from other human donors.

Less than 4 in 1,000 people regularly donate blood in Shanghai. Thus, we have taken it upon ourselves to create public awareness regarding blood donations.

While blood donations help thousands of people every day that depend on blood and the compassion of voluntary blood donors to continue living, blood donations also benefit the donor.

Personally, the biggest benefit has been the sense of happiness derived from helping others and saving lives that cannot be achieved elsewhere. Especially if done on a regular basis, this altruistic behavior allows tremendous psychological benefits that have been linked to positive health, decreased risks for depressions and longevity. As you sit on that chair, roll up your sleeves and let you red flow, you get engulfed in this amazing sense of achievement and warmth just knowing you are helping someone survive.

When done in a community blood drive, there is also this sense of communal bonding and while you may not know the person sitting next to you, you share the same desire and the intention to give back to the community. There are many friendship stories that have taken roots at the blood donation sites.

Donors may also achieve a healthier cardiovascular system. Donating blood on a regular basis reduces the viscosity of the blood and, according to one study, may lower the risk of suffering a heart attack by even as high as 88 percent. Regular blood donation also reduces your blood pressure.

Because of some regular mini-physical and screening tests that are carried out before every blood donation, blood donors get a "free" health check which may sometimes also reveal potential health problems and thus draw attention for further workup.

Regular blood donations also reduce the total iron stores in the body. While iron is necessary for your body, too much is harmful. A study showed how regular blood donors had decreased risks of liver, stomach, lung, colon and throat cancer.

Blood donation helps you burn calories and one pint of blood may help you burn up to 500-600 calories. Talk about working out sitting on a chair and you also get to be a hero at the same time. Blood donation helps to tune up your body as after a blood donation, your body generates new blood cells. It takes about 24 hours to replace the plasma and between 4-6 weeks to replace red blood cells.

Lastly, donating blood and creating kindness especially at times of community needs or crisis defines you as a "good and responsible citizen" of the community. You can be in that elite group of "superheroes" that have chosen to respond to that call and by the virtue itself, you are above and beyond the rest.

The community needs you desperately and the right time to donate blood is NOW!

Please allow thousands of families in need of blood to have a happy Chinese New Year. You have that power… the red power. It is in you… it is in your heart and it is in your veins. Just let it flow… from your heart to theirs.

Do not wait, donate!

Roll up your sleeves: Donate blood to help the needy

Dr Ashish Maskay

  • Founder and Core member of Bloodline
  • Ambassador and Director of Foreign Division of Volunteers Group of Shanghai Blood Center
  • Recipient of 2019 Top Ten Public Welfare Stories
  • Recipient of 2020 Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award
  • Great Experience Officer of Greater Hongqiao Area 2021
  • Recipient of 2022 Shanghai Magnolia Gold Award

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