Monday, August 30, 2010

Updates to urgent need for B- blood in Gwangju.

By now news of Michael Simning has probably reached you on Facebook. Mike---owner of Gwangju's Underground Grocers and The First Alleyway, host on GFN 98.7 FM, a "beacon of Gwangju's foreign community," husband, father, and all-around great guy---was diagnosed with leukemia and is in urgent need of B- blood, a type especially rare among Asians. Reaching out to South Korea's diverse expatriate communities to find matches is of utmost importance.

There are restrictions imposed by the Korean Red Cross on who can donate blood---impositions found throughout the world---something learned earlier in the year during another blood drive in the expat community, and written about by Roboseyo in an important post in April and summarized again last week.
The donation eligibility form is the same at any red cross clinic worldwide:

Take a look at this document. Read it carefully.
Take a look at this document. Read it carefully.
These two documents'll help you determine your eligibility.

In this article, and this one, I was told you need to meet these requirements to donate blood in Korea:
1. You need to have an Alien Registration Card. Bring it, and be ready to present it.
2. You need to have been in Korea for a year.
3. You need to be able to answer some questions about your medical history... mostly the ones inthose two documents above... the guy at the Seoul Global Center, when I called in April, was pretty sure that you need to speak enough Korean to answer the medical history questions yourself, but when I went in person, the nurse did allow me to answer the questions through an interpreter. Some of the questions made my translator feel awkward -- "have you shared needles"? But if you can help save a guy's life, it's worth it, right?

Michael's friend Hughie Samson has collected information via Facebook and sent out an update, including information about how to find out your blood type, what to say in Korean at the clinic or hospital, and what else you can do to help:
A few days ago Michael Simning - an expat in Gwangju - visited the hospital because he wasn't feeling very well.

He discovered that he has leukemia, was admitted into the hospital immediately (where he will stay for at least a month), and has started to undergo chemotherapy treatments.

As part of his treatment Michael needs to receive several blood transfusions.

Michael's blood type is B-, which is very rare, and so he, his family, and his friends are trying to find people in Korea who can donate blood to him immediately as well as periodically throughout the next couple of weeks. (O- blood won’t work in this case.)

If your blood type is B-, and you are able and willing to donate, please consider contacting Tim Whitman at 011.9600.6378 or Tim will pass your name and phone number along to Michael and his family.

You can also help by passing this message along to friends of yours here in Korea too.

Many people -- unfortunately -- don't know their blood type. You can find out yours -- and at the same time find out if you can help Michael -- by visiting a hospital in your area.

The procedure is relatively painless and should only take a few minutes.

In case you’re worried about communicating with the staff, you can print out and show them the following information, which explains to them why you’re there and why you need this information:

친구가 백혈병에 걸려서 도움이 필요합니다.
제 친구는 Rh-B 형 입니다.
제 혈액형 검사받고 하고 싶습니다. Rh-/Rh+ 인지까지 정확히 검사 받고싶습니다.

Once you find out your blood type, and if it is B-, you can do the same as those who already know theirs: contact Tim Whitman at 011.9600.6378 or

In the meantime Michael’s immune system is very weak so he isn’t able to receive any visitors. He is able to communicate using the internet and telephone, however, and many friends have been wishing him well using Facebook.

And as a side note from me, a friend: Mike’s sickness and rehabilitation may cause a lot of financial strain to him and his wife and daughter, so if you are in Gwangju, please consider supporting him in a very direct manner by shopping at the Underground Grocers and by eating at the First Alleyway, both of which will remain open in his absence.

Underground Grocers is open on Wednesday from 11 to 7, on Thursday and Friday from 1 to 7, and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 7; the First Alleway is open Wednesday to Saturday from 5 to 10ish and on Sunday from 11 to 5 for an all day breakfast.

For people eager ot know what else they can do to help, mutual friend Jessica---in another Facebook message---reiterates that people in the area continue to shop at the Underground Grocers and The First Alleyway. People staying away because they mistakenly think the two are closed can raise more money for Michael and his family by their continued patronage.

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