Starting in May, Spot community members were supposed to be able to donate blood at work for the very first time, but the coronavirus has caused a delay. But bloody good things come to those who wait! Everyone is thrilled about the initiative Sanquin at Work, set up by Spot Schiphol (Schiphol Real Estate) and the Sanquin blood bank.
Richard Jongejan, who works at Schiphol Group asset management, has already donated blood a few times at the mobile blood bank. This is a truck with all the necessary equipment to draw blood at any location in the Netherlands. Richard, a Spot community member, saw no reason why the mobile blood bank couldn’t make a stop at Schiphol. So he contacted Sanquin and Spot community manager Annick, both of whom were immediately excited. Because a blood bank on wheels is a perfect solution for many potential donors. Richard explains: ‘I’ve spoken to several colleagues who are already blood donors, but say that they haven’t donated in quite some time. It can be difficult to schedule a trip to the blood bank when you have a demanding job at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Wouldn’t it be great if you could receive a call inviting you to donate blood and do so on the very same day, right there at work?’
Sven Fontijn, employee at KLM Catering Services, loved the idea. ‘As a Spot ambassador, I became involved in this project and got inspired. I always liked the idea of donating blood, which I had already done once at the blood bank in Amsterdam. I wanted to find out what it would be like.’ Sven has blood type O negative, which is relatively rare. Only 7% of the Dutch population is O negative. It is the only blood group that can be given to all patients, including those with a different blood group. ‘I will definitely be donating blood more often.’ He is excited about the idea of a mobile blood bank at Schiphol. ‘You can easily drop by before or after work, or even on your lunch break. I think this initiative will encourage more people to become donors.’
Donating blood is done on a voluntary basis, and you will get a keychain as a token of appreciation upon registration. Sven noticed that there were a lot of almond cakes and other sugary treats on the table for people to enjoy once the donation was over. ‘This is necessary to boost your blood sugar levels. After donating half a litre of blood, you might feel a little lightheaded. But once you get your sugar boost, you bounce back before you know it’, Sven says, smiling.
Nathalie Jutte, facilities coordinator at Samsung, also plans to use the blood bank. ‘I signed up as a donor immediately when I turned eighteen and have been donating blood for more than ten years now. I don’t go very frequently, because I travel outside of Europe a lot. When you go to certain places – where there’s a high risk of contracting malaria, for example – there is a rule that you cannot donate blood for seven months afterwards.’ Nathalie is a firm believer in donating blood. ‘When I imagine a situation where I myself might need a blood transfusion, it’s great to know that others have donated for me.’
For some time now, Sanquin has conducted research into the spread of coronavirus by testing donors’ blood. ‘These days, you are able to get a lot of information by doing a blood test. And because this illness affects so many people, research is very important. When you register as a new donor, you can indicate whether your blood can be used for research. I indicated that my blood can be used for any purpose.’
On average, Nathalie donates three times a year. ‘I’m lucky that I live in Haarlem, where Sanquin has a blood collection lab. I live in the area and it’s easy to drop by. But when you work all day and you have lots of appointments, a blood drive is an accessible way of reaching a larger group of people.’
Five times a year
Richard has been a blood donor for a number of years. Because of his rare blood type (O negative), he makes sure he goes five times a year. That’s the maximum number of times you can donate blood. He has no idea how many people will be donating blood at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol blood drive. ‘We will have to wait and see. Depending on the numbers, we will determine the frequency of the blood drive visits.’ He hopes that the arrival of the mobile unit will lead to a growth in the number of new Sanquin donors, but he also expects that it will be easier for existing donors to donate during working hours. ‘Research has shown that a considerable share of donors do not respond to a call to donate. I hope to see this number go down. I also believe that, in light of the corona crisis, more people are aware of the enormous consequences of a large-scale public health emergency. We are social beings at heart, and I am seeing a lot of wonderful things happening in society at the moment. This includes donating blood.’ It is not yet clear when the first blood drive will be held. ‘It may be possible to introduce the blood drive this summer, circumstances permitting.’
And what about those delicious almond cookies, will they be handed out at the mobile unit? ‘The truck will be parked at The Square, so we may be able to receive donors at The Base after their donations. Because you will need to rest for a bit, and have a drink and a bite to eat. And I’m sure there’ll be a sugary treat waiting for them, to give them the energy boost they need’, beams Richard.
Interested in becoming a blood donor?
Register now via Sanquin at Work, because the more colleagues who register as donors, the greater the chance that Sanquin will frequently come to Schiphol with the blood bank on wheels. This makes blood donation even easier. Together we help each other!