Be the Reason for Someone’s Heartbeat

In commemoration of World Blood Donor Day, we pay our heartfelt tribute to Champion Blood Donors who have selflessly embraced regular blood donations as a part of their lifestyles. 

Meet Subbiah Saravanan, a 29-year-old engineer whose life-changing journey as a dedicated blood donor has earned him not only a Bronze medal at World Blood Donor Day 2024 for having made more than 25 blood donations, but also the gratitude of countless individuals whose lives he has touched. Inspired by his mother, a dedicated donor herself, Saravanan embodies the power of unwavering commitment and discipline as a catalyst for positive change.

Growing up, Saravanan accompanied his mother to blood banks. Witnessing her selflessness instilled in him the importance of giving back. "My mom is my hero," he beams with admiration. "Her dedication to helping others ignited a passion in me, to make a real difference to society in the most meaningful way I know."

Driven by Family, Fueled by Impact.

Though the process was ignited by his mother, it was the realization that a single blood donation can save up to three lives which struck a chord in his heart: 

“The moment I understood the profound impact of blood donation, it transformed my perspective", Saravanan recalls, his voice filled with conviction. 

This newfound meaning turned occasional donations into a lifelong commitment. 

"Each donation is a small act of kindness with a massive ripple effect," Saravanan explains with unwavering passion. "It's become an essential part of who I am. I can't imagine not doing it" Saravanan said with the passion that spoke volumes about his unwavering commitment to a noble cause.  

Balancing “Hustle” with “Heart”

Finding time to donate amidst a demanding engineering career is Saravanan's biggest challenge. Yet, his dedication remains unwavering. 

"Scheduling can be tricky," he admits, "but I treat blood donation like a sacred ritual."

He meticulously plans his blood donations, ensuring they fit seamlessly around his work schedule.

Learning from Setbacks: A Deeper Respect for the Process

Saravanan's dedication is not without its challenges. There were times when temporary health issues prevented him from donating. "Those moments were tough," he admits with a hint of disappointment lingering.

However, the supportive staff explained the importance of donor and recipient safety. These setbacks became learning experiences, fostering a deeper appreciation for the rigorous measures that ensure everyone's well-being. 

"I’ve grown to appreciate the meticulous measures put in place and it has solidified my commitment to a safe and responsible donation process," he says with unwavering resolve.

Recognition for His Selfless Contributions

At this year's World Blood Donor Day, Saravanan received the Bronze Medal at World Blood Donor Day 2024, held at Marina Bay Sands on 29 June, for having made more than 25 blood donations. 

While it acknowledges his dedication, for Saravanan, the true reward lies elsewhere.

"The most fulfilling aspect," he says, his voice brimming with emotion, "is knowing I'm somehow, somewhere part of a life-saving chain."

Advocating Blood Donation among Friends

Blood donation isn't Saravanan's only contribution. He actively champions the cause among his friends, and inspires them to take up the mantle of blood donation. They have turned Bloodbank@Westgate and Bloodbank@HSA visits into social gatherings.

"Sharing information wasn't just about awareness," he explains. "It was about empowering them. I wanted them to see themselves as potential donors and advocates, inspiring their peers. This also encourages a healthy lifestyle, as good health is a prerequisite for donation."

Through his efforts, a positive spirit of giving takes root. Each donation becomes a celebration of humanity, a testament to solidarity and shared purpose. Witnessing this growing circle of lifesavers embodies the power of community in saving lives.

Bridging the Gap Between Awareness and Action

In Singapore, only 1.8 percent of the population donates blood. Of the pool of blood donors, youth donors constitute merely 15 percent of the blood donor pool. This is particularly concerning given the critical need for a diverse blood supply that reflects the multicultural makeup of our society. 

Reflecting on the state of blood donation in Singapore, Saravanan underscores the pressing need for more people to step forward to embrace regular blood donation as part of their lifestyles. 

"Contrary to myths," he clarifies, "donation is swift and painless. Typically it takes less than an hour of your time to potentially change someone's life forever. By making it a habit, your impact can be continuous and significant on the lives of others."

He frequently dispels common fears, from needle phobia to post-donation weakness myths. "The slight discomfort is easily outweighed by the spirit of saving lives," he reassures. "The healthcare professionals ensure a smooth process which is as painless as possible." His aim is to transform fear into hope and action.

Negative blood types are rare and hence extremely valuable in medical emergencies. For instance, merely about 0.5 percent of the Singaporean population has O-negative blood, the universal donor type, which can be transfused to patients of any blood type in urgent situations. 

Regular donations from individuals with negative blood types are critical to maintain a ready supply for emergencies. 

The Importance of Rare Blood Types

“Negative blood types are rare but vital in emergencies. These rare types are a healthcare system’s lifeline. Regular donations from these individuals are critical for emergency preparedness. They ensure we're always ready. It's crucial for these donors to come forward consistently" Saravanan stresses.

Saravanan passionately advocates for greater awareness and accessibility, urging an expansion of blood donation hours and the introduction of mobile units to enhance accessibility. 

"We need to bridge the gap between hesitation and action," he asserts. "By translating informative materials into the various languages, leveraging current trends and social media, we can reach a wider audience and inspire the next generation of blood donors."

A Call to Action

Saravanan’s journey as a blood donor is a powerful reminder of how one person’s commitment can profoundly impact others. Inspired by his mother, motivated by the lives saved, and driven by his dedication to give back to society, Saravanan continues to be a beacon of hope and a passionate advocate for this noble cause. Saravanan is an inspiration to others to follow in his footsteps. Together, we can build a larger community of dedicated lifesavers.

By Nur Syaairah Liyana Binte Mohammad Ali, Volunteer
Copyedited by Dr Nguyen Kien Truc Giang, Volunteer, and Sondra Foo, Marketing & Communications

Inspired? Learn more about blood donation.