By Mansor Puteh
The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a new slogan for blood donation this year which is 'A blood donor is a hero', or 'Setiap penderma darah ialah seorang wira'. Unfortunately, the Blood Donors' Day on 14 June came and went without the ministry of health and National Blood Center doing anything with it.
The slogan remains a mere slogan.
But it is still a better slogan compared to the one which does not give credit to the donors, which is ‘Blood saves lives’. This slogan totally ignores the donors and only highlight the benefits those who receive the blood of the donors, whom they can never discover who they are.
Yet, many Malaysians have benefited directly from the charity and kindness of the blood donors, especially the regular ones, who remain anonymous.
But what does the public and even government agencies and ministry of health give in return?
Nothing at all.
So it is not a surprise that the World Blood Donors’ Day is not celebrated in a way that befits the occasion which is meant to highlight the deeds of the blood donors, and the act of donating.
Even the media does not care. The media are too busy promoting the other days – Fathers’, Mothers’, St. Valentine’s Day, etc, etc, that the Blood Donors’ day is neglected.
The ministry of health and the National Blood Center do not seem to know what that they can do with it, other than the blood center hanging banners in the lobby of the center to remind donors that they are heroes.
I liked to joke with some of the staff of the blood donors how those who do not donate blood and who receive blood from the anonymous donors that 'those who do not donate blood but receive it, are crooks'.
This could be a fact.
There are some Malaysians who are as yet anonymous, who have been donating blood all their adult lives from the time when they were in Form Six till they retire and not allowed to donate blood again when they attain the age of 60 years, who have donated more than 400 times.
But Malaysians generally do not know who they are.
The ministry of health and National Blood Center do not take any action to highlight them.
They are indeed real heroes of the country, who have given their blood unrelentlessly without force, to strangers whom they do not know and are not able to find out how they had benefited from their kind gesture.
Many others are able to benefit with their lives saved in major or even minor surgeries but they do not know whose blood they had been given.
It is not that the regular blood donors wish to make a big deal of their deed, but isn't this is what WHO had wanted to do when they created the slogan 'A blood donor is a hero'?
It has been a while now since the slogan was created, yet the ministry of health and National Blood Center have not done anything with it, other than to hang banners in the lobby of the blood center in Jalan Pahang off Jalan Tun Razak.
I would like to propose that the ministry and blood center produce a special documentary to highlight those who have donated blood the most in Malaysia, so that they can become a good source of inspiration to the young who can be compelled and encouraged to donate blood for the first time, and who can continue to donate regularly so they too can claim to be able to contribute something to the good and welfare of other strangers, some of whom could be their own close relatives and friends later.
And it is also unkind for the ministry and blood center to stop offering free medical services to the blood donors ten years after the last time they donated blood since it would mean that they can only take advantage of this service when they are 70 years.
Isn’t this mean? That they are now without such a benefit when they are a time of their live when they would need such a service more than when they are young and healthy?
This can also taken to mean that the ministry and blood center, which had change the benefits which were available to the donors for life, to a period of ten years only, by indirectly saying that now that they do not donate blood, and if they are sick, they can suffer and die.
It is also demeaning if the blood center only wants to highlight their doctors by showing slide shows and other clips to students to educate them on the virtues of donating blood, as this can only mean that they want to take credit for the donation of blood by the scores of thousands of donors, when what they should be doing is to highlight those who regularly donate blood so that the students and others can find inspiration from them.
I noticed that those who have donated blood the most in Malaysia are those from diverse racial, religious, social and cultural backgrounds. They would come to the blood center regularly and donate blood and leave it, without feeling proud that they are doing this deed.
But that does not mean that they do not deserve to get some recognition, even when they did not ask for it? It’s for the authorities to offer it to them.