As I am a member of the 'Blood Connections' group in Facebook, I was alerted to a posting where a patient needed a certain blood type that matched mine. And since it's a medical emergency, I had to visit a blood donation site! And quick!
Luckily, as I work in the Yongsan area, I was told that the nearest Korean Red Cross site was at the Seoul Station! So, I immediately rushed to the Station. In medical emergencies, time is always of the essence.
(The Seoul Square across Seoul Station)
I didn't even realize there was a Red Cross center at the Exit 2 of this busy station. I have been here lots of times but I never noticed this center. But when I got there, I was impressed with the facilities!
(Seoul Station's Exit 2)
Upon entering, Min-Joo, a volunteer (who could speak English) helped me log on into my Korean Red Cross account (I have been a registered donor for a year now) on one of the computers, and ushered me to a female nurse who was running the place for further screening. Since I was donating my platelets (the specific requirement of the patient), I gave her the details of a certain hospital (where the patient was) for my blood donation. And after a couple of minutes of phone conversation between the nurse, the English-speaking coordinator on the phone and myself, everything was sorted out! This was soooo easy! Unlike the helpless occasions I experienced while buying some electronic stuff at the Yongsan electronics market due to the language barrier!
And after taking a drop of my blood, my blood pressure and a dozen medical questions (with the help of the English-speaking volunteer), I was finally cleared to donate!
I never felt inconvenienced nor offended by these all those questions. I knew that the Red Cross just wanted to be sure that the blood they receive is clean and disease-free.
(My blood pressure reading)
Questions like your current medical condition or if you are taking medicines for an ailment, overseas travels or having been hospitalized recently will decide on whether you're okay to donate or not. Being in prison, or taking topical medicines on your scalp (for anti-psoriasis or baldness), or to having been to a malaria-mosquito infested area will also weigh in on their decision.
For foreigners living in Korea, having lived or visited UK for over a month between 1980 to 1996, or over three months being there in 1997 or later, or over five years in the EU region from 1980 or later, or receiving blood transfusion in UK or France since 1980 would disqualify a potential donor due to the mad cow disease scare.
Since I was told it would take about 50 minutes or more for the blood platelets extraction, I was assigned to a reclining bed with a laptop! I could surf the Net while donating! I never thought I would be lying on bed, watching Youtube, drinking orange juice...right in the middle of Seoul Station! Ha-ha-ha!
(How I wanted to blood, er, blog.
But could not type with only one hand.)
And not only that, I was given a cash coupon worth W5,000 which I could use at some cafes! Although I didn't want anything in return as I just wanted to help, the cash coupon would be useful, even for just a cup of cafe mocha!
(Glad Rafa was winning!)
Having a laptop to watch a Rafael Nadal match on Youtube was very helpful in keeping my mind off the needles and tubes attached to my left arm. I didn't need to read the Time magazine I brought along.
(A cup of orange juice)
And after the whole process was over, I was told I shouldn't rush as I might get dizzy or sick. So, after I got my needle mark plastered up, I left the center and just took my sweet time as I made my way back to the Seoul Station (and passed by a few homeless guys sitting drunk on the pavement. They definitely would not be cleared to donate. Too much alcohol in their blood. :-).
I definitely would go back to this center to donate. It's close by and convenient. Though I'm not sure if they'd assign me to that reclining bed with a laptop. But perhaps, I should look forward to that cash coupon. If only for cup of iced cafe mocha.
(My blood platelets being sorted out. I like the colors. Yellow and red. Very summer. Ha-ha-ha!)
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So, if you think you're a potential donor, you can always contact the Korean Red Cross: