Bloody good Bloggers!

Bloody good Bloggers!

More than 200 youths converged at BloodBank@HSA in Outram on Nov 29. Some, recognising each other, gave knowing nods, while others huddled together in groups to talk. There were needles, beds and – gasp! – blood.

No, they weren’t members of an illegal assembly, or some twisted cult activity. These were bloggers taking part in the first Blogger Blood Drive organised by regional blog advertising community, Nuffnang.

“This may be the world’s first such event. What we’re trying to do besides getting our bloggers to donate blood is to raise awareness and positively influence other people”, says Mr Cheo Ming Shen, 25, the community’s co-founder and executive director.

Podcast: Mr Cheo shares with us his thoughts behind the project.

Donors were arranged in groups of 20. After they made their donation, they were given goodie bags containing BRAND’S Essence of Chicken. They also received a certificate, a free t-shirt, and a generous buffet lunch, far more generous “compensation” than at typical school drives where they offer a hot Milo, some biscuits and a small souvenir.

Bloggers that the UrbanWire spoke to were enthusiastic about doing their part.

First-time donor Chien Han Sheng (above), 16, a graduating student at Raffles Institution, said, “I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and I’m very happy. My family knows that I’m doing this and they are very supportive.”

Listen: Han Sheng tells us about his first time.

Chai Chwan Piau, 22, an undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University, said, “It was great doing this, and I think it’s a good thing that they (Nuffnang) are trying this out. Blogging’s an innovative channel to create awareness. People read blogs, and it’d definitely be great if they can spread the word about blood donation.”

Ms Charmaine Tan, a senior executive of Corporate Communications at the Singapore Red Cross Society (SRC), agreed. She added, “This is a new partnership with Nuffnang. It’s a fantastic thing that we are getting youths on board. The Internet is a good tool to reach them.”

Some prospective blood donors were turned away because they were deemed unsuitable. However, they were not deterred, and used the opportunity to network with their fellow bloggers and to learn more about the blood donation process.

Jessica Loh Yap Tin, 16, said, “This is my first time coming to donate blood, but I found out I can’t donate because I’ve got anemia (a red blood cell deficiency). But it’s alright – it’s nice to hang out with my Nuffnanger friends while I wait for my O Level results.”

Vera Soh, 16, a graduating student at Nan Hua Secondary School, remarked, “Everything on my mind is now about AIDS, because the form was filled with so many AIDS-related questions!”

Bring up a discussion on blood donation, and the topic of pain almost always comes up. However, the bloggers denied feeling any discomfort.

Chwan Piau reasoned, “If anyone is turned off from donating blood, it’s because of the pain. But they use anesthesia, and it’s not painful. I guess it’s also a matter of spending the time to go donate blood that deters people.”

Han Sheng concurred, saying, “At first I was nervous and thought it was going to be painful, but it wasn’t that bad! I feel a little giddy, but it’s okay. A little bit of pain can save others [from] a lot of pain.”

Though they were troopers when it came to donating blood, many did not know how long blood and its components could be stored, and were not aware that there were other components of blood – such as platelets and plasma – that could be donated.
Sean Koh, 26, assoc. engineer, Motorola
To address that, Sean Koh Sze Yong (above), 26, an associate engineer with telecommunications multi-national corporation Motorola, asked for more comprehensive public education.

“Better education should be given about how blood can be broken down into 3 components and about how each component is important,” he suggested. “Not many know of Whole Blood, Plasma and Platelet donation.”
James Ooi Wei Xiong, 21, NSF
James Ooi Wei Xiong (above), 21, NSF, agreed, saying, “I feel there’s not enough education. I just know they need blood and that each time I donate I can save 3 people, but I don’t know anything else.”

“Like, for example, I don’t know how long it can be stored. Maybe 12 years?” he speculated. Jessica thought that it could be stored for 2 years. Vera’s schoolmate, Gwendolyn Tan, 16, gushed, “To be honest, I’m not quite sure how bad the blood shortage is in Singapore.”

According to the Health Science Authority (HSA), 350 units of blood are needed every day. Ms Elaine Tham, Senior Manager of Donor Recruitment at SRC, shared with the UrbanWire that red blood cells could be stored for up to 42 days, while platelets must be used within 5 days of extraction. The HSA estimates that platelet recipients usually need contributions from 10 donors.

Listen: James brings up a common misconception about blood storage.

Listen: Ms Tham tells us some facts of donating blood and its components.

“That’s why we just can’t stockpile, and that’s why the emphasis is on regular donation,” said Ms Tan.

Han Sheng summarised the issue brilliantly. “People always donate money to the poor, but no one really does that about blood. There’s a serious blood shortage, and it can’t be bought. Everyone can give blood, unlike some people who can’t afford to give to the poor because they have no money themselves,” he rationalised.

By all accounts, Singapore’s First Blogger Blood Drive was a bloody success, and organisers hope to make it a yearly affair.

Listen: Jessica Loh, 16, shares her appreciation for the event and its organisers.

For more information on donating blood, visit the Health Sciences Authority’s


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