Foreigners make "bloody" contribution to Beijing Olympics

2008-01-23 19:32:34 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- More than half of the staff at the Saudi Arabia School in Beijing have donated blood at least thrice since 2005. They are among the increasing number of foreigners in the Chinese capital that are making their own contribution to the coming Olympic Games.

"Whenever there's need for blood, we'll give. We don't consider ourselves foreigners, for the world is a big family," Mustafa Ali Alhumaid, headmaster of the school told Thursday's China Daily.

The school caters for children of Saudi Arabia's embassy staff. All the teachers are from that country.

Since 2005, the school has been organizing its staff to take part in the annual free blood donation camp, held in collaboration with the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center (BRCBC).

Mustafa and his colleagues are potential blood donors for BRCBC, which has been appealing to the public, especially foreigners living in Beijing, to donate rhesus (RH) blood to ensure enough supply during the Olympic Games, BRCBC deputy director Shi Weiwei told China Daily.

The annual demand of blood in Beijing rose from 80 tons in 2005to 103 tons last year, 435,000 Beijingers donated blood.

The voluntary blood donation system was introduced in 1998, and the city's blood banks have depended entirely on residents since 2005.

Since one million people, including about 20,000 athletes, coaches and officials, are expected in Beijing during the Games, the city could face a shortage of RH blood, Shi said.

Only 0.3 percent of the people in Han-dominated China have RH-blood. Among China's ethnic minorities five percent of the Uygurs and one percent of the Mongolians belong to the RH-blood group. But nearly 15 percent of Caucasians' blood group is RH.

Beijing plans to have 800 of the 200-ml units of RH-blood for the Olympics. But the BRCBC has only half those number till now, Shi said.

In 2001, the BRCBC set up a separate wing for RH-blood donation. It has registered 300 residents willing to donate blood if needed. Unfortunately, that number is not even half of the requirement, Shi said.

With the donation group shrinking and the demand for blood increasing, the shortage of RH-blood could pose a problem during the Games, Shi said, and appealed to everyone to join the donation campaign to help raise the stock.

The BRCBC is training a team of English-speaking volunteers and will soon begin a bilingual service to make blood donation easier for foreigners.