THE members of the Chang family and their close relatives have a tradition: They all donate blood and have possibly saved hundreds of lives. Over the past 30 years, the 11 relatives have donated some 385 packets of blood. They have been identified as Singapore’s largest family of blood donors by the National Blood Programme, helmed by the Singapore Red Cross and Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
The programme started the Someone In My Family Is A Blood Donor campaign in June. Its key activity, the Blood Donor Tree Project, encouraged individuals to track blood donors in their family by building an online
“blood-donor tree”. The Changs joined the project by chance: Mr Daniel Chang, 51, and his older brother happened to meet at Bloodbank@HSA in Outram Road.
Noting the coincidence, staff at the blood bank told the brothers about the project, and invited the younger Chang to set up a donor tree. As it turned out, the Changs’ blood-donor tree included Mr Chang’s three children, his brother, his nephew (a son of another of Mr Chang’s brothers), a cousin and four of his
Mr Chang is often spotted with a sticking plaster on his arm, championing blood donation at family gatherings. “I encourage them to donate blood and tell them how the simple act can save lives,” he said. “I also tell them that it is no more painful than an ant’s bite.” In addition to blood, Mr Chang also donates platelets every month.
When he was 10 years old, he saw an urgent television broadcast calling for blood to treat victims of an accident in a Jurong shipyard.
“I was too young at the time to donate blood, but I told myself that I would donate as soon as I had the chance,” he said. He did not hesitate when the time came. When he was 18, a mobile unit visited his army unit and he was among the volunteers to donate blood. Since then, Mr Chang has donated blood 141 times. His selfless acts have inspired his three children – Joanna, 23, Joseph, 21 and Joel, 19 – to become blood donors as well.
Ms Joanna Chang, a finance
assistant who has donated blood six times, said: “It was a natural thing to do once we were of age. We’re really proud of our dad and we thought it would be great to be able to save lives too.” Medical needs have increased
Singapore’s requirement for blood over the years, from 60,000 units a year a decade ago, to 100,000 units today. A unit contains 450ml of blood on average, and can save up to three lives.
Ms Cecilia Tan, director of the Red Cross’ Blood Donor Recruitment Programme, said: “As our population ages, more blood is needed every day for medical transfusions, to treat ailments such as bleeding disorders, anaemia and cancer. “Therefore, blood donation should not be a one-off event.” The blood-donor tree project
hopes to inspire others to become regular donors. “I will give blood for as long as I am able to, and I hope to hit
the target of donating blood 250 times,” said Mr Chang.