Churches join drive to get more to give Drops of Life

Undergraduate Michelle Goh has a fear of needles. But yesterday, the 19-year-old donated blood for the first time.
Undergraduate Michelle Goh has a fear of needles. But yesterday, the 19-year-old donated blood for the first time.

LoveSingapore, Red Cross team up for blood donation drive over long weekend

Undergraduate Michelle Goh, 19, is so terrified of needles that the last time she had an injection was in primary school.

But yesterday, Miss Goh summoned up courage and went to donate blood for the first time.

Her hands were shaking so much that a friend had to hold them while she took the blood test.

"I decided to try to overcome my fear because there are people who need the blood more than me," she said of the decision to donate.

She made the trip to the Health Sciences Authority building in Outram Road after learning from her church about the country's need for blood.

The LoveSingapore network of 100 churches partnered the Singapore Red Cross to organise a Drops of Life blood drive on Good Friday and over the long weekend.

The churches are having the blood drive from Good Friday to remind believers of the reason behind the occasion - which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Lawrence Khong, chairman of LoveSingapore, said it was an opportunity for Christians to give back to the nation and meet blood bank needs.

Blood needs have become more urgent. This year, the Singapore Red Cross estimates that 118,750 units of blood are needed. Last year, there were only 115,976 blood donations. Each donation yields a 450ml unit of blood.

Said Mr Benjamin William, chief executive of Singapore Red Cross: "While the National Blood Programme has successfully met Singapore's blood needs over the past seven decades, our ageing population and expanding healthcare system pose a challenge to blood supply adequacy. We hope to increase the percentage of youth donors to ensure a sufficient supply of safe blood into the future."

Statistics from the Red Cross show that in the last five years, about 3,250 people have stopped donating due to old age and illness but the total blood donor pool grew by only 2,732 people.

In particular, fewer young people are donating blood. There were 22,451 youth donors in 2012, but the number dipped to 19,515 last year.

"Students usually donate at blood drives held in school but those can be ad-hoc. For young people, there are so many distractions competing for their time," said Miss Goh. "But if more of them know of how urgent or dire the blood situation is, they may be more motivated to donate."

To raise awareness of blood needs and donation among the youth, the Red Cross has been rolling out outreach programmes and skits in schools this year.

It has also launched a mobile game app called Donor Dash to get them interested about blood donation through gaming.

Young people can use the Red Cross Connection mobile app and microsite (giveblood.sg) to learn about the nation's blood needs, upcoming blood drives, nearest blood banks, and be alerted when certain blood types are needed.

Members of the public can still donate blood over this weekend at all the blood banks as well as at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2017, with the headline 'Churches join drive to get more to give Drops of Life'. Print Edition | Subscribe