Friday, February 20, 2009

Donating Blood

I didn't wake up this morning thinking, 'I wanna donate blood today!' but somehow, I ended up doing exactly that. I was minding my own business walking to school and I passed a blood center as I normally do. In Korea, there are many blood centers all around the city and in front of it, you would see someone, usually an older lady trying to lure you into the center to donate blood. I have passed by this lady many times in the past, usually with a nod thinking one of these days I will do it but just not that day. I guess I always thought about doing it but the fear of the long thick needle penetrating into my skin and seeing my blood getting sucked out into a bag scared me a bit.
But today, the lady that works at the clinic grabbed onto me saying she really needed donors that there weren't enough donors recently. She also gave me the saddest look and I just didn't have the heart to turn her down. But as soon as I walked into the clinic, I was glad that I got up the courage to do this.

For dealing with a small amount of pain, you get so much more in return. A feeling that you saved a life and sense of pride and accomplishment in fulfilling one of your social responsibility. But I also got a little more than that. I got a neck pillow of 나눔이 nanumi, mascot for the Korean Red Cross. I had a choice of free movie ticket and gift certificate but chose this cute pillow. Of course you also get free juice and snacks. I also got a blood donor registration card and with this, I can get one free blood transfusion. Apparently I can donate this registration card to someone and they can use it in place of me.
I was really happy today for doing this. I haven't felt this good in long time and I am looking forward to April when I can donate again. I'm sure blood donors are scarce everywhere in the world but I heard it is especially more rare in Korea. I don't think Koreans are more shy on donation and community service but this has become a serious issue here. Some attribute the low rate due to increased restrictions on who can give blood. Initially when they found out that I was from the States and I was out of the country for a long time, they were a little reluctant. But because my blood is "Korean" and the fact that I was from the States and not U.K. (I'm thinking mad-cow disease?) and other southeast Asian countries, I was OK to give blood. I found it a little amusing that when they asked me if I was Korean, I answered them, "No, I'm American." But they asked me again, "Is your blood Korean?" I was perplexed but I said yes. I don't know how they could prove this and what kind of effect it would have on blood transfusion. I learned that foreigners are not allowed to give blood in Korea until they have lived here for a year and even for Koreans, if you travel to Malaria or any other disease prone countries, you are excluded from the donor pool. I guess it's better to be safe. I never gave blood in the States and I got curious what their policies were on foreigners giving blood or expats.

Recently they have started TV campaigns to promote blood donation with Korean pop stars. I just hope there will be more people who are willing to donate their time to give blood. I hope whoever that read this can get inspired to give blood because if Kelly can do it, so can you!


Unknown said...

wow. that is the cutest blood donation center i have ever seen.

Anonymous said...

You are braver than I am! Good for you.
By the way, in Korea, do they accept blood donations from non-Koreans? Just wondering.

Kelly Belly =9 said...

I updated my post a little more with the foreigner detail. They are not able to give blood until they have lived in the country for over a year and have not traveled to southeast asia and some countries in the EU like UK. I was OK tho. I have Korean blood. ^^

Anonymous said...

I think it has more to do with AIDs than anything else~
props to you for donating~