Abu Dhabi resident 'terrified of needles' has donated blood 20 times

On World Blood Donor Day, Roy Rajan urges others to overcome their anxiety and save lives by donating blood

Roy Rajan donating blood for World Blood Donor Day. Photo: Roy Rajan
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An Indian resident "terrified of needles" has helped to save lives by becoming a regular blood donor in Abu Dhabi.

Roy Rajan, 34, said he always had a phobia of needles and blood, but overcame it and no longer avoids transfusions.

Speaking before World Blood Donor Day on June 14, Mr Rajan, who is from Kerala and works as a senior marketing executive at Burjeel Medical Centre, said donating blood is noble, it saves lives.

Mr Rajan has the rare O-negative blood type, popularly known as the ‘universal donor’.

According to Mayo Clinic, this blood group has the lowest risk of causing serious reactions for most people who receive it.

Blood is valuable, you can’t just go and buy it over the counter. It feels great to save someone's life because they got blood in time
Roy Rajan, regular blood donor

“All my life, I had this fear of blood and needles to such an extent that I tried to avoid medical check-ups as much as possible,” he said.

But a phone call from a person five years ago pleading with him to donate blood to save a life changed his perspective.

“That night, I realised the importance of donating blood and decided I would keep doing it as much as possible. The feeling was awesome, and I realised it was so much bigger than my fear,” Mr Rajan said.

He now donates blood every three months and in the last five years, he has donated blood up to 20 times.

The rare blood group is always in demand because it can be given to patients of all blood types. In trauma situations, it is the first choice for transfusion before the doctor determines the patient’s blood type.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai urges people to donate blood during a previous campaign. Wam

“After the first donation, Seha blood bank officials send messages whenever there is a shortage or emergency," Mr Rajan said.

"These messages are touching and give me the encouragement I need to donate.

"I go once every three months and do my bit. Of course, I am still apprehensive before stepping into the blood bank due to my fear of needles, but then I remind myself that I need to do this to help others.”

Healthy adults must keep a gap of at least eight weeks (56 days) between blood donations.

“Blood is valuable, and you can’t just go and buy it over the counter," Mr Rajan said.

"I feel great when I’m there donating blood and hear them say that someone’s life was saved because they got blood in time.

"My message to people who are considering blood donation but are held back by anxiety is that you don’t need to worry.

"After all, the feeling of helping someone is more satisfying than being held back by your fear."

Every year on World Blood Donor Day, authorities in Abu Dhabi urge people to donate blood and saves lives.

Blood donation picks up after two years into the pandemic

They said while blood banks have bounced back from a recent slump, there remains a constant need for more.

When Covid-19 first struck, many refrained from donating blood as they feared catching the virus.

Active campaigning and safety precautions have helped to drive up numbers again, but the public is urged to remember the importance of regular donations.

"In response to those afraid of contracting Covid-19 when visiting donation centres, blood banks and hospitals have implemented vigorous safety and precautionary measures to protect donors," former Seha chief executive, Dr Tarek Fathey, told The National last year.

"For instance, Abu Dhabi Blood Bank Services, provider of blood transfusion services for the emirate, can only be visited by limited donors at a time to ensure physical distancing.

"It has a sanitisation tent for donors to walk through, has facilities for donors to thoroughly wash their hands before and after they give blood, and they are asked a comprehensive set of questions before collecting donations."

ADBBS has registered 55,000 people donating blood during 2020, allowing the blood bank to collect 60,000 units of blood, he said.

"The healthcare system is built for our needs, but it is also ours to help," Dr Fathey said.

"I wholeheartedly encourage all of us who can donate, to find out where the nearest donation centres are and to give blood to transform the lives of countless patients."

Updated: June 14, 2022, 11:39 AM