Saturday, October 01, 2011

From Memoir of a Blood Donor-Col RD Singh

On Blood Donation Day
From  Memoir of a Blood Donor-Col RD Singh
01 October, 2011
Pictures & Videos: Amar Singh Jyani, GS Mann.
Watch Sirsa News Video: Blood Donation Camp at National College Sirsa by NSS

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My First Blood Donation

It was exactly 49 years ago on 01 October 1972. I was attending my class in DAV College, Chandigarh. Suddenly, a team of ladies and gentlemen, led by Mrs Saroop Krishen, Secretary, Blood Bank Society, Chandigarh, entered. She said “today is blood donation day.”Would you young boys not like to make a gift of life”? That spurred me & I said yes. That was the beginning of a beautiful journey. I joined Mrs Saroop Krishen in this noble cause. As members of NSS, we went around various colleges and institutions spreading the message of ‘voluntary blood donation’. And lo and behold! Chandigarh youth was most forthcoming. We students helped in organizing various blood donation camps. The experience of doing something for others was exhilarating. It helped us in all-round development and positive thinking. Mr Triloki Nath, our beloved late Principal, specially used to invite us blood donors to his house for tea. I still remember how Mr I K Gujral, then our Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, honoured us volunteers at Tagore theatre in 1973. I was awarded a Bronze medal by the Blood Bank Society. Later, I was awarded by the Vice President of India in 2004, as distinguished alumni of my college at Chandigarh. 

I left Chandigarh to join Army in 1973 but did not leave behind blood donation. I continued doing my bit even in olive greens. In my unit, where ever posted, we volunteered to donate blood for the needy peoples. During World Health Day, which is religiously celebrated every year by the Station Health Organization (SHO), an army establishment in every cantonment, we conducted voluntary donation camps. I still remember how passionately I addressed a gathering in Jodhpur in 1991, giving my personal example of health and happiness, even after donating blood for 42 times at that time. That led to spurt of voluntary donors, on the spot. Even newly married couples; some of whom had misconceptions that giving blood leads to weakness, came forward. 

By now my wife, Madhu, had also joined me. She made her first donation at Happy House School, Jodhpur, where she was teaching. She saved the life of a school maid who was undergoing a major surgery. She found a new respectability after that. My daughter celebrated her 18th birthday with blood donation at PGI Chandigarh, nine years ago, as student of the Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi. Today, as a practicing Delhi high court lawyer, she proudly wears the ‘Donate Blood’ T shirt, motivating her colleagues, during morning walks. Our son Aniket could not wait even for 4th September (his 18th birthday) to make his first voluntary blood donation. He made his maiden ‘gift of life’ on 29 August 2007 when the Rotary and Blood Bank Society, Sector – 37, Chandigarh, organised a camp at Army Institute of Law (AIL) Mohali. Now that completed the family picture of voluntary blood donors (self 83 times, wife – 24 times, daughter 06 times, and son, now a young Lieut, roaring for a fourth donation). 

While posted at Jammu, we organised a camp for Jammu Medical College and donated 205 units of blood. Being a B (-ve), I keep answering the distress calls. We help anyone who approaches us to save a life. At Leh, where I was there two years back, we went around the villages to motivate the people to save a life. At my own village, Pillimandori (Fatehabad earlier part of Sirsa), my wife and self donated blood in a camp organized by the Youth Club, with renowned musician Pt Jasraj as the Chief Guest, and the villagers willingly followed suit. It was a great success. May I please make a request? Each one of us is healthy and between 18 to 65 years of age, can save one life every three months. Then why are we shy or afraid of donating blood? Some people have misconception about donating blood. They think it will make them weak. Newly married are particularly prone to this feeling. It is not so. Donating blood is absolutely safe, healthy, and soul enriching. So, think. If we can make voluntary blood donation a habit, will it not unite the whole nation in one red thread? Will it not save hundreds of lives every day who die due to contaminated or lack of blood? Will it not save poor people from running from pillar to post or paying through their nose? Let’s stop fighting in the name of religion and shedding blood of hatred. Let’s spread love and brotherhood. Let’s lead a life of purpose. What better way than giving a gift of life!

Colonel R D Singh is posted at Ambala these days and is a regular contributor to 

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