Wednesday, June 15, 2011

World Blood Donation Day...volunteers go dracula!

My name is Dan Balmbra and I’ve been with the GVI Program in Luang Probang for almost four weeks now. I’m 19 and from England, and that’s about all there is to tell! Despite that, this was definitely a first for me here, as the 14th of June was International donate blood day, and Laos was no exception!

So led by Sam we decided to actually try to find where this was taking place, and the Laos Red Cross showed us where they were accepting blood. As it turned out, an entire field hospital was displayed where normally they do massages outside in the day. It was fairly surreal answering questions about vaccinations and your medical history literally 5 metres from traffic!

The doctors where incredibly professional and respectful through the entire procedure, even making light of the fact that even they couldn’t stand the Lao music that was coming out of speakers about as much as me...
The day was a great success, with Helia, Edward and I giving six pints of blood between us, with no complications at all.

Actually no complications is probably slightly incorrect. Edward ended up giving four pints alone! He was under the impression that he was giving two pints, but they decided to swap arms after they grew a little concerned. It was nothing major, but his blood was thicker than they were expecting, so it was taking a while to actually leave his body. All was well, but his shocked expression after he worked out was happening was fairly priceless.

We left the donation centre a little sore in the arms, but I was actually expecting it to hurt far more than it did, my only experience with this kind of procedure being when I gave plasma back in England. Holding shirts that we knew would be at least three sizes too small; and cryptic Lao Red Cross water bottles, it was great to see the genuine smiles of the doctors working there. What we did WILL go towards saving or trying to save a locals’ life. You can’t get more worthwhile than that.
If you’re in a position to, please think about donating blood. We’re living proof that even location doesn’t mean much!