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Tales from the trenches, Thai Red Cross

Tale # 1

A group of 4 young 18 year old boys were so eager to register having been convinced by me that Leukemia patients would be saved by stem cells from someone young and healthy like them. After their medical check up, all but one was qualified to donate blood:

the first had too much too drink the previous night,

the second partied till late and didn’t go to bed until 2.00 am

and the last one shyly said, " I’ve had herpes krup!”

It was such a disappointment for me but they promised to come back in 3 months and were determined to pass the medical check up and become potential stem cell donors. I thanked them wholeheartedly because it was the intention that really counted. I jokingly handcuffed all three together with the orange ribbon and told them to behave and that I would see them again in 3 months!

This first tale indicates how much harder it is to recruit stem cell donors here is Thailand as it is done through blood donation. No simple acts of spitting and swabbing!

When our campaign started we were faced with such strong misperceptions about the health dangers of donating stem cells. 99 % percent of people thought that bone marrow donation only came from extraction through the spine!! Hence the graphic below.

Tale # 2

A farang cycled all the way from out of town to register to find out that he also needed to donate blood. He had second thoughts and was hesitant for quite a while. He had to cycle home which was far away and was afraid he might not have enough energy to do it in the heat. I reassured him that we had ice cold ovaltine, homemade chocolate fudge and oatmeat cookies ready to re-energise him. He laughed and finally agreed.

One on one conversion was our key strategy of converting existing blood donors to become stem cell donors. Literally we spent an average of 4-5 minutes per person, explaining and convincing poeple. It was not EASY!

Tale # 3

A factory worker couple, having watched Sorayut news, came as soon as they heard the news on their motorcycle all the way from the other side of town, wanting so very much to register. I was so touched and took all the time to explain the procedures and even filled out the blood donation form for them. But I was careless and didn’t emphasize for them to fill out a second and compulsory stem cell form after they had passed their medical checkup. This two step process was so confusing to everyone until we came up with a system of tying everyone’s wrists with an orange ribbon to identify them as people who wanted to register for stem cells. My couple went straight up to the second floor to donate blood, didn't fill out the stem cell form, and was askance later when the nurse didn’t take a 5 ml sample for stem cell testing.

They came downstairs, so frustrated and asked, "What happened?” We didn’t get to register for stem cell." They were devastated and upset, and I was stupid enough to think that it was already too late anyway, so why disappoint them so I lied and told them that all was ok and done. I was so very wrong because they came back after having walked out the door and gently asked me to tell them the truth. I apologised again and again for not having told them truth and explained to them about the 2 steps registration process.

I told them to come back in 3 months. They were appeased and promised to come back.

In my long career as an interior designer I have become so adept at convincing clients to accept my ideas.... all for money. These past five weeks gave me such joy to be able to do something for a good cause, actually and physically doing it, unlike just writing a check to charities. I got such satisfaction for every single registry that I signed up, knowing that I am doing this for Lara and all 37,000 patients in their time of greatest needs.

by Auntie # 2

PS Auntie # 3 can attest that Auntie # 2 personally converted over and over sooo many blood donors to become stem cell donors. And she trained our #match4lara crew in the art of gentle persuasion.

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