Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
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How Nepali community in Melbourne are inspiring each other to donate blood

As the Australian Red Cross calls for more blood donation in Australia, various Nepali community organisations in Melbourne have risen to the occasion and doing their bit.

Published 5 May 2021 at 1:28pm
By Abhas Parajuli
Various Nepali community organisations have been conducting regular blood donation campaigns as Lifeblood is pushing for more donors from all ethnic backgrounds to come forward to donate blood more regularly.

According to the Red Cross, only one in five Australian blood donors is born overseas, making it difficult for patients with the less available blood type to obtain the blood they need.

Erin Lagoudakis - a spokeswoman for Lifeblood - the branch of the Australian Red Cross responsible for collecting and distributing blood and related products in Australia - says blood donation helps save the lives of those in need.

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यो रिपोर्ट नेपाली भाषामा पढ्न तलको लिङ्कमा जानुहोस्:


Roshan Upadhyay, who has donated blood about 50 times in Australia alone, is the President of the Epping Wollert Nepalese Community (EWNC), representing people of Nepali heritage currently residing in Northern Melbourne.

Upadhyay says his blood donation count is almost reaching the half-century mark predominately because he donates plasma than the whole blood.

“As you can donate more frequently (when donating plasma), my donation count has really shot up,” he told SBS Nepali.

Roshan Upadhyay from Epping Wollert Nepalese Community
Roshan Upadhyay from Epping Wollert Nepalese Community has nearly donated blood 50 times in Australia. Source: Roshan Upadhyay

Roshan Upadhyay, who is also a father to two small children, urges people to fully commit to the cause, arguing one would hardly find time - if they only go after the excuses.

“One cannot know the satisfaction of blood donation until they actually do it themselves,” he said.

He, however, says lots of people in his community are unable to donate blood more frequently as most of them are shift workers who are often only available in the wee hours.

Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
Source: Sushil Chalise/Royal Western Club


Other Nepali community organisations, like EWNC, have also been organising blood donation drives periodically and trying to accommodate donors availability.

The Royal Westerns Club, which runs sports and other community events in western Melbourne, recently organised a four-day blood donation event.

Secretary of the club Sushil Chalise says that they have organised the program for a few days keeping in mind the busyness of the students and other people in the community.

Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
Sushil Chalise has been instrumental in getting Nepali community members in Western Melbourne to donate their blood. Source: Sushil Chalise/Royal Western Club

Expressing his satisfaction, Chalise said in those four days, about 50 people from the community donated blood, 28 of whom were debutants.

Akin to Upadhyay, Chalise also thinks many in the community have misconceptions and fear about donating blood.

“From my experience, many people just panic... it’s just one of those things,” the veteran blood donor told SBS Nepali.

“Few in the community have this misconception that by donating blood, they will be doing their body some harm or some others are just plain worried if something goes haywire during the process.”
Birat Sharma from the Nepali community donates blood
Source: Roshan Upadhyay/Epping Wollert Nepalese Community


Chalise, who has donated blood 22 times in Australia so far, says he is thrilled to hear that his blood has flown to Tasmania and the Northern Territory to save lives.

He said if it weren’t for the “initial struggle phase of a migrant”, that number would have been much higher.

“I started donating blood from early adulthood in Nepal. Then it became a habit. Once I came to Australia, the grind of migrant life took priority for a good deal of years.”
Comparing and contrasting to other community events, both Upadhaya and Chalise point out there is a lot less female participation in blood donation.
But there are a few exceptions.

Bobby Lama, a single mum, says she donates blood as a social service.

Lama believes that women’s participation in critical community activities such as blood donation is meagre due to family and family reasons.

Bobby Lama is one of few Nepali female blood donors in Australia.
Bobby Lama is one of few Nepali female blood donors in Australia. Source: Bobby Lama


She says that if a single parent like her can find time, it should not be difficult for others to do the same.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” Lama told SBS Nepali.

“Friends seem to have a big role to play, especially in encouraging other female companions to donate blood. In my own case, I got gravitated towards donating blood after seeing a good girlfriend of mine donating blood.”
 
Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
More females are encouraged to donate blood. Source: Roshan Upadhyay/Epping Wollert Nepalese Community and Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerns Club

To encourage others to donate blood, Upadhyay also posts a picture of himself at the donation chair on social media every time he donates blood.

“I post a photo of myself donating blood to show my friends how easy, simple and regular the blood donation process can be, no matter how many times I donate blood,” he said.

“I am glad to say that it has motivated a few.”

Krishna Sapkota donates blood regularly in Melbourne
Source: Roshan Upadhyay/Epping Wollert Nepalese Community


Speaking of such encouragement, Sushil Chalise says that one of the participants of his community blood donation drive who has donated blood more than 100 times also boosted the morale of many other Nepali community members.

“Dr Sandesh Pantha, who has donated blood 117 times, including 47 times in Australia alone, just meeting him many of the participants were not only inspired but also thoroughly motivated to keep on donating.”

Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
Dr Sanesh Pantha has donated blood over 100 times. Source: Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerns Club

According to , more than 90 per cent of all of the debutant blood donors feel great during and after the donation, while only a small number of people feel dizzy or tired, which experts say should not be a cause for concern.

Lagoudakis suggests people drink plenty of water the day before donation.

“Make sure you’ve had plenty of water to drink the day before and the day of, and have eaten a good meal,” she said.

Sandeep Timsina from Nepal donates blood regularly
Source: Roshan Upadhyay/Epping Wollert Nepalese Community


Bobby Lama says that in her experience, it takes more time for women to give blood than for healthy men, but the joy that comes from it helps to lightens the mood.

Chalise says whilst Lifeblood provides all these great resources to ease the process, many in the community don’t heed the advice and consequently suffer.

“What I have seen is a lot of people just ignore the messages they receive from Lifeblood,” he said.

“Once the needle is inserted and if the blood does not flow well, then that’s a waste of both effort and time.”
Lama argues that such a message provides an opportunity to understand how one’s existence is connected to other people.

“I’m glad that as a human being, I’m benefiting others.”

LifeBlood says that it will only send information about where and how your blood was used to people who donate whole blood.

A supplied image obtained Tuesday, March 2, 2021.Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has issued an immediate appeal for 22,000 extra people to donate blood or plasma in the next fortnight. (AAP Image/Red Cross) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Source: RED CROSS LIFE BLOOD


According to the organisation, since plasma or platelets are used for various purposes, it is generally not possible to provide specific information to the donor.

Bobby Lama asks other women to go and donate blood once and for all.

She says that the relationship between people is strengthened only by donating blood.

Lifeblood has announced it will start collecting convalescent plasma to aid the fight against COVID-19. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING
Cath Stone Executive Director of Donor Services of Lifeblood addresses the media during a press conference in Frankston, Melbourne. Source: AAP


Cath Stone, executive director of Lifeblood, says the importance of donating blood is not just about providing blood.
“It’s not just about the red substance. Plasma and plasma medicines are often the last line of defence or treatments of different types of conditions like cancer, autoimmune conditions, bleeding disorders or burns patients.”

According to Stone, platelets in the blood can be kept outside the body for only five days at most, so continuous blood donation is necessary.

Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
Source: Roshan Upadhyay/Epping Wollert Nepalese Community

Roshan Upadhaya says starting the tradition of blood donation on special days like birthdays and wedding anniversaries of oneself and one’s children could help the wider community.

Upadhaya expressed his belief that some form of donations should be made on celebratory days and achieving milestones.

Information about donor's ethnic ancestry

Since the end of 2020, Lifeblood has been urging blood donors to provide information about their ethnic ancestry voluntarily.

Explaining the reason for this, Lagoudakis said that if the information was available, finding rare blood types (that are more common in certain ethnicities) much more accessible.

Lifeblood says that although there is an equal demand for all types of blood in Australia, there is a great need for ‘O Negative’, ‘O Plus’, ‘A Plus’ and ‘A Negative’. 

Things to know when donating blood

A supplied image obtained Tuesday, March 2, 2021.Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has issued an immediate appeal for 22,000 extra people to donate blood or plasma in the next fortnight. (AAP Image/Red Cross) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has issued an immediate appeal for 22,000 extra people to donate blood or plasma in the next fortnight. Source: RED CROSS LIFE BLOOD


According to Lifeblood, people who want to donate blood in Australia should be at least 18 years old and at most 75 years old.

Moreover, they should not feel unwell while donating blood.

People who want to donate blood should also weigh over 50 kg.

“If you are fasting for any reason, you will need to postpone your donation until you are eating and drinking normally again.”

She says that even though the actual donation is completed in 5-10 minutes, the administrative side can take a tad longer.

“On the day, you’ll need to bring a photo ID with you, check and have your temperature taken at the reception, complete the donation questionnaire, undergo an assessment with one of our team where they’ll go through your answers and also check your blood pressure and haemoglobin, then the donation itself only takes around 5-10 minutes,” she explained.

Sushil Chalise/Royal Westerners Club Nepali Blood Donation Drive
Source: Sushil Chalise/Royal Western Club



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