“She has given blood 70 times,” by Hedy Khoo. The New Paper, 22 Jun 2008. Lab officer, 66, oneof 108 donors given gold award.
“THE number of times she has donated blood surpasses her age.
Sprightly part-time lab officer Kok Oi Yee, 66, has made 70 blood donations so far.
In recognition of her contribution, she was given a gold award on the Singapore Red Cross Blood Donor Recruitment Programme Honour Roll for champion blood donors.
She received her award on 14 Jun during the Champion Blood Donor Recognition Ceremony held to commemorate World Blood Donor Day.
Ms Kok is among 10 women donors out of 108 gold award winners.
She said her former boss encouraged her to donate blood in 1965.
‘A group of my colleagues agreed and we all went together to donate blood for the first time,’ she said.
She hasn’t looked back since. She tries to donate blood four times a year.
‘To me, it is a simple procedure. This is a simple act that can impact and save the lives of others,’ she said.
‘I wasn’t squeamish, because I am a tomboy by nature. But I understand there are people who cannot take the sight of blood.
‘The sight of the needle can also be daunting. But I just focus on the fact that someone needs my blood.’
She recalled with a smile how some of her old friends, who were NSmen, were frightened by the idea of donating blood.
‘They told me they didn’t mind getting leeches stuck to them in the jungle and swamps, but the thought of the needle struck more fear in them,’ she said with a chuckle.
Ms Kok, who is single, said a lot of people have misconceptions about blood donation.
‘It is hard to change their minds, but I do encourage my friends to at least come and take a look at the process,’ she said.
‘Many are not aware how their blood can help to save lives.’
According to Miss Amanda Soh, 22, spokesman for the Singapore Red Cross Society, it is harder for women to meet the blood donor criteria because they tend to have lower levels of iron than men.
Ms Kok has a diet rich in iron like spinach. To keep fit, she also does taiji three times a week and walks briskly for about 11km once a week.
Only regular blood donors are allowed to continue to donate blood past 60, subject to the assessment of the doctor, said Miss Soh.
While some of Ms Kok’s friends who used to be regular blood donors had to stop because of health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, she is still going strong. Her latest donation was in March this year.
Said Ms Kok: ‘I feel thankful that I am still able to do my little part for the community.
‘The satisfaction I derive from knowing I can help in some way is much more than any amount of blood I have donated.’