Donors' blood saved him, says regular blood donor
Bronze Award winner at Champion Blood Donor Awards, who had severe form of dengue at age eight, says: Now I realise how my mother felt
He was only eight when he was diagnosed with dengue haemorrhagic fever and needed nine bags of blood to survive.
If his father had not gone around asking his friends to donate blood, Mr Koh Wee Jin Algene may not be where he is today.
Now 36, he regularly donates blood and is the blood beneficiary for this year's Champion Blood Donor Awards.
He will also be receiving the Bronze award.
Mr Koh, an implementation manager, thinks of it as a way to honour the people who had helped him when he was younger.
He went for his first donation when he was serving national service.
However, he started to donate blood regularly only after he got married five years ago.
It was after he had his daughter, who is turning five this year, that he realised how his mother must had felt when he was diagnosed with dengue.
The fever had caused him to be warded in the intensive care unit (ICU) for 14 days and his mother would alternate between taking care of his sick grandfather at home and being by his side at the hospital.
His condition reached a breaking point and he was on the brink of death.
Doctors even told his mother that she should prepare for the worst, saying that if he did not pull through that night, there was nothing much they could do any more.
That brought on his mother's tears.
Mr Koh told The New Paper yesterday : "I told my mum then not to worry and that I would survive and pull through."
Now he donates blood every 10 weeks despite his fear of needles and he encourages people to do the same.
He believes that the impact of donating blood goes beyond the patient who receives it.
"If you look past the direct patient, you realise that the family is also affected and your blood can help so many people."
For 24-year-old Abigail Lim Chia Khim Hoon, donating blood has been a family affair.
In the week of her 16th birthday, her mum took her to the Bloodbank at Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to donate blood together.
Like Mr Koh, Miss Lim also has a fear of needles and initially was not keen on the idea.
"I looked away the entire time," she said.
But her fear has not stopped her from donating blood.
She donates blood once every three months and has donated about 26 times in eight years.
Miss Lim is receiving the Bronze award today, alongside her mother.
She does not intend to stop donating after receiving this award.
Miss Lim said: "I want to donate as much as I can and my personal goal is to reach the highest award possible."
Mr Benjamin William, Secretary General and CEO of the Singapore Red Cross, is heartened that people are coming forward to donate blood.
He strongly encourages healthy individuals between the ages of 16 and 60 to donate.
He said: "Every donation will save lives. An hour of one's time is all that is needed to save up to three lives."
Mr Koh looks at the experience as rewarding and he, too, encourages everyone who is able to to go and donate.
"After every donation, I feel much lighter and blessed because I have the capability to give," he said.
Where to donate blood
WHERE TO DONATE BLOOD
- Bloodbank@Dhoby Ghaut
- Bloodbank@Westgate Tower
- Mobile blood drive locations
CRITERIA TO BE ABLE TO DONATE BLOOD
- Aged between 16 and 60
- Weigh at least 45kg
- Not have had fever in the past three weeks
- No signs of infection, such as a sore throat, runny nose, cough for at least a week.
BY THE NUMBERS
units of blood needed per hour
units of blood needed per day
units of blood needed per year
of the resident population are blood donors
are male donors
are female donors
highest number of donations made by a single donor
donors made their 100th donation
donors made their 200th donation
Champion blood donor awards
The Champion Blood Donor Awards is an annual event to honour blood donors who have reached certain milestones in their blood donation journey.
This year, 1,450 people will be awarded. The awards range from Bronze to the Medal for Life.
The number of donations required to win these awards are:
Champion of Champions 150
Medal for Life 200
Champion of Champions 125
Medal for Life 150
Recipients will also receive a specially engraved medal at the ceremony.