Blood Donation and Bone Marrow Registry
A Virtuous Cycle of Love and Charity
In 2003, the severe outbreak of SARS led to a global epidemic where even Singapore, with its advanced healthcare services, was not spared. The epidemic caused widespread fear among the masses, with many people avoiding crowded places. As a result, the blood bank at the Health Sciences Authority faced a severe shortage in blood supply. In response to this crisis, the Singapore Red Cross made an open appeal to many organisations for partnerships in blood donation drives to make it easier for members of the public to donate blood and at the same time drive home the importance of blood donation.
Tzu Chi Singapore contacted the Red Cross and decided to jointly hold a blood donation drive with the society. Since their first partnership in June 2003, blood donation drives have been an important part of Tzu Chi’s activities. Presently, other than holding quarterly blood donation drives in Jing Si Hall and Westgate, Tzu Chi has also created weekday blood donation points for the convenience of busy working folks. These blood donation points are situated in the heartlands, such as Tampines, Toa Payoh, Senja Cashew, Yishun East, etc., enabling residents to donate blood conveniently within their neighbourhoods.
The blood bank would further separate the donated blood supplies into blood plasma, platelets and red blood cells, enabling them to be used to save the lives of patients with different blood conditions. Hence, during a blood donation drive, Tzu Chi volunteers would appeal to the public through the use of information boards to donate blood with the slogan, “A bag of blood can save three lives”. They would station themselves in crowded places, such as outside MRT stations, markets, shopping malls, etc. to promote the activity and also provide transport for donors to and from the donation point.
The blood donation process, which includes welcoming potential donors at the entrance and providing care and support before and after donation, is carefully planned and implemented to facilitate the steps involved. Caring and helpful Tzu Chi volunteers keep the donors company throughout the entire process, and their warm hospitality is a boost to the confidence of first-time donors.
The Foundation has been commended for its tireless efforts in helping to save lives and has received many accolades as an active organiser of blood donation drives. For several consecutive years, it has received the Blood Mobile Organiser Gold Award. As of 2021, it has collected more than 29,500 units of blood.
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Bone Marrow Donor Drive
“Bone Marrow Donation” is one of the “Eight Footprints” of Tzu Chi Taiwan. In the early days, the Singapore public’s knowledge of bone marrow donation was rather limited. It was only after the establishment of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) in 1993 that Tzu Chi Singapore began working with the former to hold public talks on bone marrow donation and to organise bone marrow donor drives. Tzu Chi and the BMDP jointly advocated the importance of bone marrow donation in saving lives and even held fundraisers to support the expensive bone marrow tests. In 2003, the two organisations collaborated for the first time to conduct a bone marrow donor drive during a Tzu Chi blood donation drive.
From 1994 to 2007, Tzu Chi added nearly 2,600 records to BMDP’s database. Tzu Chi and BMDP resumed their cooperation in October 2022 to simultaneously register bone marrow donors during blood donation drives, giving local patients with blood disorders the hope of life with bone marrow matching.
The Most Meaningful Birthday Gift
Tracy, who is outgoing by nature, had always hoped to save lives by donating blood. To fulfil her wish on her 16th birthday, she even searched online for information on blood donation drives and specially travelled from her home in Hougang to a Tzu Chi blood donation drive held in Yishun to donate blood. As all blood donors between ages 16 and 18 are required to obtain parental consent for blood donation, Tracy earnestly pleaded with her mother to apply for a half-day leave to accompany her to the blood donation venue to sign the parental consent form. Before they left, a volunteer asked Tracy if she was willing to continue donating blood in the future. The young lady answered with a resounding “Yes!”, drawing cheers and applause for her bravery and kindness.
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