Blood donation
A blood packet at a blood donation centre in UAE. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: An Indian expatriate with a rare blood group has urged potential blood donors not to feel anxious about the donation process.

After years of fearing the needle, Roy Rajan — with the rare ‘universal donor’ O-negative blood group — has himself become a regular donor and recounted his journey on World Blood Donor Day, celebrated on June 14.

First donation

Rajan’s fear of needles and blood had long stopped him from donating blood. The 34-year-old recalled an incident five years ago when he received a phone call from someone urging him to donate O-negative blood for an emergency case. He managed to gather the courage and walk into a blood bank for his first-ever blood donation. This decision left him with a new outlook on life.

“All my life, I had this fear of blood and needles to such an extent that I tried to avoid medical check-ups as much as possible. That night, I realised the importance of the act of donating blood and decided I would keep doing it as much as possible. The feeling was awesome and I realised it was so much bigger than my fear,” Rajan said.

Every three months

Rajan, who works as a senior marketing executive at Burjeel Medical Centres in Shahama, Shamkha, and Al Zeina, diligently donates blood every three months. In the last five years, he has donated blood 20 times.

Universal donor blood

The O-negative blood type is rare and found in only seven per cent of the global population. It is, however, always in demand as it can be given to patients of all blood types. In trauma situations, it is the first choice for transfusion and can be given even before the doctor determines a victim’s blood type. For this reason, an O-negative donor is referred to as the ‘universal donor’. According to Red Cross, healthy adults must keep a gap of at least eight weeks (56 days) between two blood donations.

“Abu Dhabi Blood Bank officials send out messages whenever there is a shortage of blood or emergency. These messages are touching and give me the encouragement I need to donate. I go once every three months and do my bit. Of course, I am still apprehensive before stepping into the blood bank due to my fear of needles, but then I remind myself that I need to do this to help others,” Rajan said.

His mother’s untimely demise ten months ago also further opened his eyes to the importance of timely support in saving lives. Now, Rajan reminds himself that the blood he is donating will help somebody’s loved one. He has also become a familiar face at the blood bank.

Overcoming anxiety

On World Blood Donor Day, Rajan said he understood that many people were anxious about donating blood.

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“Blood is valuable and you can’t just go and buy it over the counter. I feel great when I donate blood and hear later that someone’s life was saved because they were given blood in time. My message to people who are considering blood donation, but are held back by anxiety, is that you don’t need to worry. After all, the feeling of helping someone is more satisfying than being held back by your fear,” Rajan said.

Ahead of World Blood Donor Day, he himself visited the blood bank to offer his latest contribution.