Passing the Baton to New Blood Donors

Every family has its own unique traditions. For Mohd Azhad Bin Mohd Shariff’s family, it’s donating blood. He shares what keeps him going as a blood donor and why it is important for more people to step forward to donate blood.

Blood donation runs in Mohd Azhad Bin Mohd Shariff's family. Growing up, he watched his late father and older siblings fearlessly donating blood. In fact, his late father was a prolific donor, having given his blood more than 150 times! Inspired by their life-saving cause, Mohd Ahzad embraced blood donation as a regular part of his lifestyle when he was serving his National Service. 

"My father and older siblings were my role models. I felt it's my calling to incorporate blood donation into my lifestyle as well," explains the 51-year-old director of a security agency.

Mohd Azhad started off donating whole blood every quarter. But after learning from a nurse that his plasma and platelets could be used by thalassaemia patients who require monthly blood transfusions, he made the switch to monthly apheresis donations. 

Embracing Blood Donation in His Lifestyle

Blood donation can be time-consuming, but Mohd Ahzad is committed to making time for it in his life. 

"I remind myself to incorporate blood donation into my schedule. When I first started donating quarterly I set aside 30 minutes each time. For apheresis donations, I would allocate two hours monthly. It was challenging at the onset. But now, it has become a routine and a habit," he shares, "My contribution will enable those in need to continue leading the normal lives they deserve." 

"Donated blood goes a long way towards helping someone, whether it is for life-saving surgeries or life-sustaining blood transfusions. The blood recipient may be a stranger in need. Their family members can have their loved ones with them because of your blood donation," he says.

Mohd Azhad adds, "Blood donation is a noble cause that helps society. We don't expect anything in return. As long as my health is good, I will press on until I am no longer fit to do so."

This year, he will be receiving the Titanium Award1 for making 180 blood donations. 

"This award is an incentive that is a pleasant surprise. I am deeply touched by the gesture. However, the motivation that spurs me on to continue with my blood donations is that it saves lives," he says. 

Mohd Azhad has also passed the baton of blood donation to his son, encouraging him to participate by sharing more about the blood donation process and its benefits. The 26-year-old has been following in his footsteps since his National Service. 

Blood Donation Advocacy

Currently, blood donors constitute merely 1.7 percent of the population. As a country, it is fundamental to have sufficient blood stocks so that people in need can continue to survive.

Yet, understandably, some people are deterred from donating blood because of the fear of needles. Mohd Azhad believes that the stigma about blood donation being painful should be eradicated, describing the feeling as being as insignificant as an ant bite. 

He suggested that experienced blood donors can become mentors by accompanying first-timers throughout the entire blood donation process. They can share their positive experiences and walk the newbies through the procedure to promote understanding and allay any apprehension.

"With some hand-holding, first-time blood donors would learn that the process is almost painless, the nurses and doctors are friendly and the blood donation procedure is seamless. It's very fulfilling when they experience it for themselves," he says. 

He hopes that efforts to promote the importance of blood donation will improve, so more people can step forward to do their part.

"Singapore is a small city. We can raise awareness by educating and encouraging people to donate blood proactively. Leveraging social media platforms to engage the younger generation to donate blood may yield good results," he says. 

Titanium Award1 is a new category, conferred to blood donors who have made more than 180 blood donations.

By Sondra Foo 
Copyedited by Shahirah Mohamed Ansari, Volunteer


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