Understanding AIDS & Beyond

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It was a sunny Sunday morning with a glaring bright sun shining towards Manipal despite the monsoon season where I joined a group of 60 other enthusiastic students from my campus, embarking on a journey to Snehasadan AIDS Rehabilitation Center in Mangalore.

This is the second time I have visited the same center where I came during Christmas period last year as it was organized by the same club - Reach Out. I am glad to be part of the organizing committee this time~

There are approximately 34 kids in the center who are infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) which results in them suffering from AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). I think one of the main reasons is due to inheritance from their parents. It is saddening, in fact, to know that such innocent kids are being victimized due to the negligence of their parents and they have to bear the painful consequences immediately once they open their eyes into this cruel world. How fragile life is...

It took us almost 2 hours to reach the center where some of our students puked due to the never ending S-shaped roads. We were greeted by the cheerful kids there once we reached and they are so hyper active, even before our scheduled games started, they dance and jumped non stop once we played the music! I can clearly see the happiness in their faces and they can't wait to show off their talents in all the games we played.

The best we can do is to bring joy to them, although only one morning of playing and interacting with them is not sufficient, but we portrayed that the community still cares for them. There are so many people suffering in every part of the world but the least we can do is to reach out for more of them, even only a small group. Don't talk about relieving pain from the suffered and helping those who are poor if we do not care for the surrounding as a doctor-to-be.

Among the games we played were pass-the-parcel, musical chair, ping-pong game and much more. Now only I realised that controlling a bunch of kids and ordering them to listen to our instructions is a challenge! They are so excited with our presence and got more excited when prizes such as colouring books are distributed to some of the winners. 

I am sure some of our students enjoyed the time with them too, reminiscing the moments when we were small, same like them, moments which we no longer get it back and defined as memories in us. So here we are, creating good memories for others too. Thankfully the kids are well behaved throughout and they can understand simple English which makes it easy for us to strengthen the bonds with them. 

I seriously had a great time with them although it is just for a few hours. Malaysians or Indians, we are all the same and the same blood runs in us. May these few hours bring some impact to their lives as it brought to mine. The feeling of going back to Manipal and leaving the kids is one which I find it hard to express, knowing the fact that I may not be able to see the same faces again the next time I come here...

Credits to Harry Ng for sponsoring his camera for this event~

Minus Blood, Adding Hope

Friday, June 14, 2013

I have always been the weak guy who is afraid of donating blood, refusing every opportunity given every now and then.

Few days back my class representative informed us about the World Blood Donor’s Day which falls on 14 June 2013. I was hesitating whether to go or not until the day comes, when Pei Shin asked me to go along with few other friends after class ended at 10 am. I am used to rejecting people’s offer all these while due to the fear within me but I tell myself on that particular moment, ‘Not this time’.

We reached the Voluntary Blood Bank section on Kasturba Hospital after our brunch and the crowd there was unexpectedly overwhelming. I can see my college students from all the batches gathering there. Despite the large crowd and long queue, we waited patiently for almost an hour before our turn.

When my name was called, I can feel the cold sweat on my palm and I can hear the increased beating of my heart. The feeling of witnessing my own blood being sucked out through a tube is unimaginable, I told myself. Upon lying down on the bed, I asked the doctor on duty, ‘Is it painful?’ ‘No’, he replied.

The syringe was inserted slowly into the median cubital vein on my arm. Blood immediately rushed out through the narrow tube which connects it to a sanitized plastic container with anti-coagulant. I was given a soft ball with a smiley on it which I have to compress it manually with my hand. The blood that was extracted is 450 ml for an average man who weighs more than 55 kg, approximately 10% of my total blood volume.

Surprisingly, I did not feel any unbearable pain, nor any numbness on my arm, something which contradicts with my fear all these while. I was instructed to stay on the bed for few minutes after the donation and was led to a resting room where I was given an energy drink to replenish my electrolyte and fluid balance, and a bar of kitkat.

Certificate of appreciation was given too and an extra 3 hours of attendance will be added. Some came for donation because of the extra 3 hours of attendance but I don’t think I need an attendance of 103%    =P

It was an amazing and painless experience to me and I regretted for not doing this good deed in the past few years. I do not know exactly to whom my blood will be given or how it will be used, maybe they used it to water the plants? (just joking xD) But at least I have done my part and gave hope to those who need it. Most importantly, I overcame my own fear and accomplished yet another challenge in my life~ =)

Medical Magic #2

The blood vessel frequently used for intravenous injection or in this case, for blood donation is located on our arm and the preferred blood vessel is called Median Cubital Vein. A vein is a blood vessel that carries blood back to the heart while artery is responsible to transport blood away from the heart. 

Median cubital vein is the vein which connects the 2 main veins on our upper limb, that is the Cephalic vein and Basilic vein. This vein is preferred because the blood pressure inside is low and it lies very superficial (directly below the skin) on the surface. Some of you might be able to see the vein on your own arm whereas some will not be able to see it, how is it possible for venipuncture (taking blood) if the vein is not seen?

The Magic: A cuff from sphygmomanometer (instrument used to measure blood pressure) is usually used and tied around the forearm. This is to decrease the velocity of the venous blood from flowing back into the heart and thus causing increased pressure on the vein, exposing it on the skin surface for easier marking. Once the vein is exposed, a syringe is inserted obliquely and blood will flow out naturally. 

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