Olympics: Young Chinese Beat Taboo, Donate Blood for Games
November 28, 2007
Young residents are heeding Beijing officials' call to donate blood for next year's Olympic Games. The normal volume of blood products may not be enough to respond to emergencies during the games, said officials.
"If anything happens, if there are any problems we need to be ready," said Zhu Ruiquan, a department director at the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center.
China is chronically short of rhesus negative blood, a type many of the 500,000 foreigners at the games are certain to have. Just 0.03 percent of ethnic Chinese have the type, compared to 15 percent of Caucasians.
A decade ago, Chinese blood donors were virtually nonexistent, and hospitals had to rely on a high-risk market of products bought and sold with little medical supervision, according to a U.S. embassy report. Unhygienic blood-buying centers fueled China's AIDS epidemic in the 1990s, especially in Henan province.
Today, Chinese donors tend to be ages 25-30 and feel a civic responsibility to donate, with no superstition about giving away blood, said Xu Min, a nurse who has worked for the Red Cross for four years. "Traditionally, Chinese people see blood as very precious but younger people are different," she said. "A lot of people say they are giving blood for the Olympics."
Now, hundreds of donors line up at 14 mobile blood donation buses downtown, Zhu said. A poster covering one outside wall of the Red Cross Blood Center says: "Prepare blood for the Olympic Games and win glory for the country!"
Agence France Presse
11.27.2007; Charles Whelan
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