Friday January 18, 2013
Gift of blood by our peacekeepers
By EILEEN NG
PETALING JAYA: An injured Lebanese youth’s need for blood prompted Malaysian peacekeepers to initiate their own blood donation drive for the local population in a small town in the Middle Eastern country.
Malaysian Company 8 (Malcoy 8) senior medical officer Kapt Dr Mohamad Faisal Aris said the 17-year-old boy was in desperate need of the O-negative blood after he was involved in an accident in September.
He added that the mayor of Kawkaba town in Lebanon approached Malcoy team members for help but none of the soldiers had the rare blood type.
It is not known what had happened to the boy, but the incident galvanised the soldiers to organise their own blood donation campaign.
Malcoy 8 commander Lt-Kol Hamdan Ismail initiated the blood donation drive among his troops on Dec 10 last year and four volunteers would donate blood each week for the Lebanese.
“This is because the Marjeyoun Hospital cannot store large amounts of blood,” he said in an e-mail interview yesterday.
So far, 12 pints of blood have been collected from the soldiers.
Dr Mohamad Faisal said the Malaysian peacekeepers had benefited from the experience by learning to help those in need regardless of cultural or religious background.
“As Malaysians, we must always show our compassion to the people around us,” he added.
Malcoy 8 member L/Kpl Balakrishnan Shamugam was one of the first Malaysian soldiers to donate blood.
“Donating blood is the least I can do to help them after seeing the hardship they face in their lives.
“I feel happy because my blood goes to the people who are really in need. I want to cherish this as a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Balakrishnan said.
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) website said the hospital was grateful for the blood dona- tion drive.
“Blood transfer is a dire human and medical necessity. We thank them in advance for the lives they shall save,” hospital director Dr Moueniss Kalakish was quoted as saying.
Hospital laboratory supervisor Danny Romany said the blood donated by the soldiers had helped to alleviate the shortage.
“Some of our patients have to undergo dialysis and cardiac treatment. We need constant blood transfusions and we don’t have any regular donors except from the patient’s families in case of emergencies,” he was quoted as saying in the website.