Last month’s Valentine’s Day blood drive was the most successful in Cambodia’s history, according to organisers, who said hundreds of young people donated.
A total of 449 students – far more than were expected – jammed into a hall at the Royal University of Phnom Penh on February 14 to give blood and simultaneously grabbed a slice of television glory.
The National Blood Transfusion Centre (NBTC) organised the drive in collaboration with Loy9, the BBC’s Cambodia-based mass media campaign, who based episodes for their new series around the Valentine’s Day event and filmed on the day.
Colin Spurway, BBC Media Action project director for Loy9, said organisers had only anticipated 150 participants.
“But in the end we almost had too many people there,” he said.
The 449 units of blood given on Valentine’s Day was the highest number of donations ever received in a single day, according to Dr Kim Cheng Hok, Director of the NBTC.
The success raised hopes that blood donation in the Kingdom could be on the increase.
But that single-day record didn’t last long.
For International Women’s Day on March 8, 466 units of blood were collected, including one from General Hun Manet, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, according to Dr Cheng Hok.
However, he saidthat for the country to meet the requirement of 50,000 units of blood for 2013 alone, one-time donors needed to become regulars.
“Repeat donors ensure a sustainable blood supply, and this is the act for fostering a culture of sharing blood to save lives,” he said.
The NBTC receives around 2,000 donations every month, but hospitals are still up against widespread beliefs that donating blood carries risks of disease.
Still, recent signs are encouraging, he added.
“People are slowly starting to understand our need, and that it is safe.”
The Loy9 episode will screen in June, and another blood drive will be held to coincide.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ruth Keber at [email protected]