Muscat: Thirty years, 116 needle-punctures, 5,800 millilitres of donated blood, countless lives saved, and still going strong.
For 53-year-old Ahmed bin Hamad bin Salim Al Kharusi of Muscat, blood donation is a “passion” he will continue to live with.
“These days there isn’t enough blood in blood banks. During the holiday season and the Holy Month of Ramadan, it gets worse,” he said.
Unlike other countries, blood donation isn’t common in Oman. That’s why from time to time; health authorities hold major drives across the country urging residents to come forward to donate blood.
During Ramadan, donations “fall drastically” according to the Health Ministry as Muslim Omanis fast and many non-Omanis travel abroad for holidaying.
But Al Kharusi, who lives in the Al Amerat neighbourhood, has been working hard for the past three decades to fill the banks with his blood without attracting any attention to himself.
It all started after a car accident in 1983 that took his brother’s life and badly injured Al Kharusi.
In the hospital, Al Kharusi was administered with blood that saved his life, wherein he realised first-hand the impact of donating blood.
Only 20 at the time, he was regularly treated at various hospitals in the United Kingdom and India until he was fit again, though he became squint-eyed. The loss was heavy. But Al Kharusi was saved.
“And I wanted to pay back,” he said. On April 16, 1986, Al Kharusi donated a pint of blood. Since then he has been donating relentlessly. The last time he donated his B-positive blood group was on May 16, to mark the completion of a record 30 years of charity, which remains unparalleled in Oman.
For the past six years, he has been campaigning in mosques to promote the habit during the Ramadan.
Al Kharusi said he has passed on this passion of giving to his friends and relatives, encouraging more than 5,000 people to donate blood.
Al Kharusi is a retired government official. He spends a good amount on travelling and volunteering.
“The travel prices have gone up. And it’s not a good news for a person like me,” he stated.
Al Kharusi is a recipient of over 100 awards and citations from several Gulf Cooperation Council nations and donor associations, including Oman’s Health Ministry.
He remembers a strong remark made by a Bahraini embassy official once stating, “I’m the pride of Oman.”
Al Kharusi added that he now needs a sponsor to back his activities.
“Volunteering is getting harder. I don’t need money for the donations I make. But I need a sponsor, who can at least help pay travel money,” he said.
Urging people to come forward a donate blood during Ramadan, Al Kharusi said shortages are seen during Ramadan and that “we must reverse this trend this year and in the future as well.”