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Property consultant became champion blood donor after seeing girl get knocked down by minibus

SINGAPORE – Property consultant Vashi Chandiramani, 63, once saw a teenage girl get knocked down by a minibus when he was 16.

Although he did not know her, he tailed the ambulance to the Singapore General Hospital and found out that she needed an urgent blood transfusion.

And because she had a rare blood type, the amount of blood she needed was not available.

Eventually, the problem was solved and the girl was saved, but that incident made him understand how blood banks can save lives.

When he turned 18, the minimum age to donate blood then, he began the journey towards becoming a champion blood donor.

On Sunday (Oct 3), at a blood drive held at the Singapore Sindhi Association (SSA), Mr Chandiramani remembered the accident, which happened 47 years ago.

The SSA adviser and immediate past president said: “Giving blood is all about saving lives… It is the noblest deed one can do.”

By 2004, he had donated blood 100 times and later stopped only because he had some health problems that made him ineligible.

Now, Mr Chandiramani spends his spare time nudging other people to give blood.

The SSA has been holding annual blood donation drives about four times a year since 1978.

On Sunday, the group held its final drive for the year, with more than 100 registered donors and waves of walk-in donors who came to Sindhu House, the SSA headquarters, in Mountbatten Road. 

Set up in Singapore 100 years ago as a merchants’ group, SSA is the oldest Sindhi organisation outside India. It is also one of the first private groups to organise regular blood donation events here.

In 2004, it was reported that the Sindhi community was among the most active groups of blood donors here, averaging 400 donations a year.

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Mr Chandiramani said SSA has seen more donors, including first-time donors, over the past three years. Before that, each drive did not cross 50 registrants.

One regular blood donor is Ms Piya Sadhwani, 55, who has been giving blood at SSA events at least twice a year for 25 years.

If she misses an SSA blood drive, she heads to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to give blood.

The Hotel New World collapse in 1986 was what first spurred Ms Sadhwani, a property agent, to think about donating blood.

“I followed the news of the disaster on TV, seeing the misery and deaths. The blood centre back then needed a lot of blood,” she said.

Since some of her family members were regular blood donors, she started going for blood drives after getting married.

Last month, Singapore’s first blood donation app was launched by HSA and the Singapore Red Cross.

The app, called DonateBlood, was created to make the process seamless for regular and new donors.

Donors can use the app to update their health particulars and receive information about their appointments, among other features.

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