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Foreigners encouraged to donate blood for Olympics
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"Whenever there's need for blood, we'll give. We don't consider ourselves foreigners, for the world is a big family," said Mustafa Ali Alhumaid, headmaster of Saudi Arabia School in Beijing, yesterday.


Staff of Saudi Arabia School in Beijing show their blood donation certificates. More than half of the staff have donated blood at least thrice since 2005. [China Daily]


The school is for children of Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia officials, and all its teachers are from that country.


Since 2005, the school has been organizing its staff to take part in the annual free blood donation camp, held in collaboration with the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center (BRCBC). More than half of the staff have donated blood at least thrice.


Alhumaid and his colleagues are potential blood donors for BRCBC, which has been appealing to the public, especially foreigners living in Beijing, to donate rhesus (RH) blood to ensure enough supply during the Olympic Games, BRCBC deputy director Shi Weiwei said.


The annual demand of blood in Beijing rose from 80 tons in 2005 to 103 tons last year, 435,000 Beijingers donated blood.


The voluntary blood donation system was introduced in 1998, and the city's blood banks have depended entirely on residents since 2005.


Since 1 million people, including about 20,000 athletes, coaches and officials, are expected in Beijing during the Games, the city could face a shortage of RH blood, Shi said.


Only 0.3 percent of the people in Han-dominated China have RH-blood. Among China's ethnic minorities 5 percent of the Uygurs and 1 percent of the Mongolians belong to the RH-blood group. But nearly 15 percent of Caucasians' blood group is RH.


Beijing plans to have 800 of the 200-ml units of RH-blood for the Olympics. But the BRCBC has only half those number till now, Shi said.


In 2001, the BRCBC set up a separate wing for RH-blood donation. It has registered 300 residents willing to donate blood if needed. Unfortunately, that number is not even half of the requirement, Shi said.


With the donation group shrinking and the demand for blood increasing, the shortage of RH-blood could pose a problem during the Games, Shi said, and appealed to everyone to join the donation campaign to help raise the stock.


The BRCBC is training a team of English-speaking volunteers and will soon begin a bilingual service to make blood donation easier for foreigners.


(China Daily January 24, 2008)


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