Drops of peach blood of strangers

Received the news that a 17-year-old teenager with terminal cancer of the bone marrow needed a platelet transfusion of the rare blood type BRh- urgently, Mr. Nguyen Anh Minh, 37 years old, immediately took a night bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Khanh Hoa.

Minh and the patient belong to the rare blood group BRh- (in Vietnam, only 0.04%-0.07% of the population has Rh- blood group). If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident, or an illness that requires a transfusion of blood and blood products, but you cannot find a compatible blood type, or have the wrong blood type, the patient is at risk of many complications, even death. Meanwhile, in Khanh Hoa, there was no one qualified to donate blood for patients, so Minh had to come.

When the bus stopped at the gate of Khanh Hoa Provincial General Hospital, Minh was informed that the patient’s condition had worsened and had just been transferred to a hospital of the last line in Ho Chi Minh City. He took the bus back and chased the ambulance.

In Ho Chi Minh City, he and the patient’s relatives are on duty, waiting to donate blood or platelets when needed. However, after a few days of intensive care, the patient no longer responded to treatment, and was arranged to return to the provincial hospital for palliative care. The patient’s family wishes “there is still water to slap”, asking Minh to go back to his hometown to donate platelets to save his child. Minh agreed, but before he could go, his wife called to report that his daughter had a fever, suspected Japanese meningitis, and was being treated at a children’s hospital.

The man was confused, had to ask for alms with the patient’s family, and ran back to his son. Fortunately, the results of a lumbar puncture showed that the girl only had a viral fever. Looking at her husband’s restlessness and guilt because he had not been able to help the boy with cancer, Tran – Minh’s wife urged her husband to go to Khanh Hoa to save people. The second time on the road, Mr. Minh and a friend from Ha Tinh, with BRh blood type – donated two units of platelets to the patient. The young man gradually regained consciousness, was able to talk and could eat some porridge. However, because it was so critical, the patient fell into a coma and died a few hours after the platelet transfusion.

“To this day, I still think, if I had come earlier, maybe he would have had a little more time,” Minh said when recalling a sad memory three years ago. This is one of the few cases where Minh directly donated blood or platelets but did not survive, most of the rest were out of danger.

Anh Minh (right cover) during his trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Khanh Hoa to donate platelets to patients with marrow cancer, 2020. Photo: Characters provided

Minh said that in 2006 when he first participated in voluntary blood donation under the agency’s campaign program, he happened to know that he belonged to a rare blood type. From there, he learned about and joined the Rare Blood Club of Ho Chi Minh City (under the Ho Chi Minh City Humanitarian Blood Donation Center). Every year, he regularly donates blood 4 times, periodically every three months at fixed reception points. He also set up the application S4Life – a “living blood bank” to connect more volunteers, ready to give blood in case of rare blood requiring urgent blood transfusion, such as heart surgery, childbirth, traffic accidents .. .

Minh does not remember the exact number of times he has donated blood and platelets, only about 60 times, during the past 15 years. In which, at units with blood donation certificates such as Ho Chi Minh City Humanitarian Blood Donation Center and Cho Ray Hospital nearly 50 times. In addition, more than a dozen times he donated for emergency cases at the Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh City, hospitals in Khanh Hoa, Quang Ngai or the West… but there were no certificates or statistics. Travel and accommodation expenses of the trips to the province to donate blood, Mr. Minh paid for himself, did not receive any support from the patient’s family.

“My goal is to save the most people. It’s never been important to be recognized, or not, to give back,” Mr. Minh said.

This is also the common view of many blood donors in Ho Chi Minh City. Mr. Dang Van Hai (54 years old, District 8 Police, has donated blood 67 times) said that, in nearly 20 years, except for a few times when he was sick and had to be hospitalized such as eye surgery, viral fever or dental treatment, he was rarely late for schedule. Donate blood at Ho Chi Minh City Humanitarian Blood Donation Center. Donated blood levels are usually at the highest level, 350-450 ml at a time. Recently, a doctor estimated the total amount of blood he donated was about 24 liters, approximately 5 times the amount of blood in the body.

However, he repeatedly reiterated that he did not need any honor, gift or response for his actions. For Mr. Hai, those blood bags can be given to anyone, as long as they can save lives. He also believes in the coordination of blood donation centers and hospitals. This is the simplest, most transparent, and most appropriate way of doing charity. His philanthropic spirit has spread to all family members. His wife and eldest daughter have underlying medical conditions and low blood pressure, so they were able to donate 5 and 7 times, respectively; Only the youngest daughter, over 20 years old, has donated blood 15 times. Ms. Tran (Mr. Minh’s wife) also regularly accompanies her husband to donate blood periodically, so far she has donated a total of 19 times.

4 members of Mr. Hai's family all participated in blood donation.  Mr. Hai hopes that his youngest daughter will exceed her father's 67 blood donation limit.  Photo: Character provided

4 members of Mr. Hai’s family all participated in blood donation. Mr. Hai hopes that his youngest daughter will exceed her father’s 67 blood donation limit. Photo: Characters provided

Similarly, Mr. Ngo Quoc Tung (54 years old, lives in District 8, has 71 times of blood donation) said that every time he receives a gift from a blood donation unit, which is milk, cake and 50,000 VND travel fee, he often sends it as a gift. for people selling lottery tickets, picking up bottles or patients in the hospital… He said that because there is no underlying disease, after donating blood, the body recovers quickly, so there is no need for milk sugar or special nutrition.

“The habit of donating blood brings me many bargains.” Mr. Tung explained that it is a sense of responsibility to take care of his own health, he does not drink alcohol, coffee, does not smoke, builds a reasonable diet and rest, thereby preserving the blood source. “clean” and a healthy body. In addition, after each blood donation, the receiving unit sends information on the quality of the blood bags such as test results for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, parasites that cause malaria, etc. Since then, he knows. health status to have an appropriate treatment plan.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Bich (Professional Department, Ho Chi Minh City Humanitarian Blood Donation Center, Board of Directors of Ho Chi Minh City Rare Blood Club), the blood donation movement has been maintained and developed strongly for many years. revive a lot of lives, especially rare blood patients. The situation of “blood stork”, selling professional blood before has been almost completely eliminated.

Blood donors can rest assured with a closed process of receiving, handling and transfusing blood. Specifically, after receiving the whole blood bags, the blood donation center will preserve and deliver it to the blood bank, Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion. The hospital will test for blood-borne infectious diseases to screen for eligible blood bags. With the “clean” blood bags, the hospital will separate them into blood products (platelets, erythrocytes, fresh frozen plasma…) for transfusion to each patient as directed by the doctor.

The 4th outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic from the end of May 2021, the city social distancing, many mobile blood collection tours were canceled, there was a shortage of blood reserves. There was a time in August, the reserve at the city blood bank was only about 3,100 bags, normally the reserve reached about 8,000-10,000 bags. Currently, when the city reopens from October 1, the amount of blood donations has gradually increased. Particularly on the occasion of the Lunar New Year 2020, the city has a stable and abundant blood reserve because it has organized many blood donations before Tet, Ms. Bich informed.

“If allowed, I’m willing to donate blood for the rest of my life,” Minh said.

Mr. Tung in the 60th blood donation, on March 24, 2019.  In 7 years, when he is 60 years old, he will reach the end of the legal age to donate blood.  Photo: Character provided

Mr. Tung in the 60th blood donation, on March 24, 2019. In 6 years, when he is 60 years old, he will reach the end of the legal age to donate blood. Photo: Characters provided

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