Reverse vampire

By Liang Chen Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-27 5:03:01

Zhao Mingyang’s secret blood donations bucks trend

Photo: Courtesy of Zhao Mingyang

Fame hasn't meant fortune for Zhao Mingyang, but only more pressure.

Zhao, a senior student at Shenyang Agricultural University, suddenly became a household name in the city after local media reported his regular donations of blood over the last three years.

Since 2011, he has been secretly donating his blood, which is AB RH-negative, a rare type found in only 0.03 percent of Han Chinese, to strangers. Whenever he heard of a need for his blood type, and as long as he was in condition to do so, he would jump on a train to the hospital and donate, even in far-off cities.

He also participated in an alliance of people with RH-negative blood, fully prepared to help others in need. RH-negative people can only receive donations from others with the same type.

After being left weak from years of illness since childhood, Zhao is well aware of how hard it is to be a patient. In this way, he said, he believed that helping people who are sick is a gift.

But after the media coverage, he receives constant requests to give blood, and can't meet all of them.

"I think having RH-negative blood is a gift, because I can use it to help people. But I'm afraid I cannot satisfy everyone who need help," 22-year-old Zhao told the Global Times.

Bright secret

If not for commendatory letters from a Tianjin hospital, praising Zhao's virtue of donating blood in Tianjin to help a girl with leukemia, Zhao's secret would have never been revealed.

In June this year, a letter from Tianjin fell on the desk of the office of the university. The hand-written letter highly praised Zhao for going to Tianjin and donating to the girl.

In March, Zhao received a phone call from Alliance of National Rare Blood, asking him to go to Tianjin to donate blood to save a girl who suffered from leukemia. The girl, Lin Lin, had to sustain his life by chemotherapy and she had to accept blood transfusion. The poverty-stricken family could not afford to pay for the expensive rare blood reserve provided by the hospital, so that they turned to the QQ chatting room of the alliance for help.

Zhao, a member of the alliance of people with rare blood, soon jumped on the train. Nine hours later, he appeared in front of the patient and donated 400 milliliters of his blood.

Lin Lin's father cried out and repeatedly expressed his gratitude when seeing off Zhao. "I couldn't eat anything before donating blood and hopped onto the train immediately. I felt dizzy due to hunger after I completed donating blood at 4 pm. However, I felt happy that I can help Lin Lin get through it," Zhao said.

From then on, Zhao's secret work donating blood in the past three years came to light.

In 2012, Zhao received a phone call from a teacher of Shenyang Radio and Television University, begging Zhao to donate plasma to help her during pregnancy.

"This teacher is RH-negative and she was in poor health. The doctor said she had to reach the standard blood level via blood transfusion if she wanted to keep the baby, so they called me," Zhao told the Global Times.

To save a life is important, Zhao said and agreed.

To make promises is easy, but to keep them is harder. Zhao had to take several buses to the home of the teacher every 15 days, donating 20-50 millimeters of plasma each time, and then bounced back to college. He kept doing this for two semesters. In total he donated over 1,000 millimeters.

Afterwards, Zhao never refused a call from the blood center.

In 2012, Zhao was asked to help another leukemia patient. Zhao agreed and in the next year, traveled two hours from college every time to donate his platelets.

In the past three years, Zhao has donated a total of 2,000 millimeters of blood and saved four people.

"Zhao's body is not very strong and he weighs only 62 kilos even though he is 1.8 meters tall. Normally, it would take at least half a year for a person to recover after he donated blood once, but Zhao donates blood many times a year," Tan Hongbo, a teacher at Shenyang Agricultural University, said, reflecting common myths in China about blood donation. In fact, giving red blood cells can be done by a healthy donor every two months without any risk, according to the Red Cross, and platelet donation, such as is given to leukemia patients, every week.

Zhao always donated blood without asking for anything.

Parents oppose giving

Zhao's parents, who are ordinary factory workers, oppose his donations, worried it will damage his body. They were angry when they found Zhao secretly went to Tianjin and donated blood.

Despite his parents' disapproval, Zhao never stopped donating blood.

"He would not bother others to buy him any food or offer any money after he donated blood," Tan said, adding that he always returned home without eating anything, which is not good for his health.

Even when there were rumors about his donating blood for money, Zhao never fought back. "I don't want to argue with them. After all, I know I am doing the right thing," Zhao said.

"In fact, people need nutritional supplements after they donated blood. But Zhao had never asked for money to buy any food from the patient. Sometimes, he had to pay for his own train ticket," An Junxue, a publicity official from Shenyang Agricultural University, told the Global Times.

Students have been influenced by Zhao and most of them began to realize it is always good to give, An noted.

In China, there are persistent myths that giving blood is unhealthy for the donor. Many students at Zhao's university previously shared this superstition. But after Zhao's good deeds were exposed, An said, students are more active at helping others by donating blood at regular hospitals.

Facing the honors and praises, Zhao appeared to be at peace.

"I just did what I should do. One day, I will also need other people's help," Zhao said.


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