At 64 years old, Malayil Surendran has donated blood over a 100 times with no plans of stopping any time soon. Surendran started donating blood about 26 years ago, after a friend suggested doing it to improve health.
Ever since then, the Abu Dhabi resident has incorporated the practice into his lifestyle and has donated his blood about 117 times. “I feel more energised and active the days I give blood,” he said.
Surendran’s aims to maintain a healthy lifestyle along with helping others, and he said donating blood allows both. “We don’t have to spend anything to give blood and anybody can do it as long as they’re healthy,” he said.
“The inner feeling one gets from helping others is like no other,” he added.
He hopes that the blood he donates reaches those who are in need and said that the recipients’ “religion or if they are rich or poor” doesn’t matter to him.
“You don’t know where the blood you donate goes and you can’t expect anything out of it. Always help strangers and don’t expect anything back.”
Inspired by his father-in-law’s death involving cancer, Surendran has recently started donating blood plasma as well.
His practice has raised some questions from friends and family however. “A colleague of mine asked: What will you do if you or your family needs blood? I said: That’s not a concern right now and it would be selfish to keep collecting all that blood in your body. Our body regenerates it,” he said.
Surendran didn’t disclose his practice to his family until he had reached a 100 donations. “After getting a certificate for reaching a 100 donations, I surprised my family with the good news and they were supportive,” Surendran said. His wife, Jayasree Surendran, 55 has been especially supportive of his practice and appreciates his efforts, he said.
The Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi has also honoured Surendran on World Blood Donor Day that occurs every June 14. Surendran said that he didn’t expect getting the recognition he has received but he is grateful for it.
“I would like to add my sincere gratitude to the UAE’s government as it has always supported such initiatives, especially during the Year of Zayed,” he said.
His daughters Poornima Surendran, 30, and Amritha Surendran, 25 have also chosen to walk in their father’s footsteps. Amritha has already started donating blood and Poornima plans to soon.
“Anybody can do it, they just need to find the time. If your doctor thinks you are healthy enough, please make a donation,” Surendran advised. “Saving someone’s life is the main thing. A onetime donation goes to almost eight people that’s eight people possibly surviving,” he added.
According to health and science news website MedicalDaily.com, donating blood can preserve cardiovascular health, reduces the risk of cancer and can burn up to 650 calories per donation.
There are some precautions that need to be taken around the time of the donation. Before one’s appointment, one must be well-hydrated, have had iron-rich food and gotten plenty of sleep.
Ras Al Khaimah based specialist physician, Abhay Nigam, told Gulf News: “As long as a person is healthy, takes necessary precautions and keeps a minimum gap of three months between each time they donate blood, it’s a safe practice.” Nigam also said that blood banks are instructed to take all the needed precautions and to ensure that the donor is medically fit, before accepting a donation.
The UAE has multiple facilities that blood can be donated at. However, there are regulations and requirements that must be met by the donor.