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When pandemic cut blood supply, Korea’s Seventh-day Adventists stepped in

May 31, 2020  |  Cheonghak-ri, South Korea  | 

When pandemic cut blood supply, Korea’s Seventh-day Adventists stepped in

A Seventh-day Adventist congregation in Cheonghak-ri, a village in South Korea’s Gyeonggi region, held a blood drive to help replenish stock diminished by the coronavirus pandemic.

On a recent Sabbath morning,  a blood donation bus from the Korean Red Cross arrived at the parking lot of the Cheonghak Seventh-day Adventist Church, after a deacon, Seong KiYeol, organized the effort.

Seong, a nurse at a Seoul hospital, had  asked a blood supplier to deliver blood to the facility and was told he’d need to wait a week. “I had heard the news that blood shortage has been severe due to COVID-19, but I hadn’t realized how bad things had gotten until it happened to my patient,” said Seong. He thought he should make people around him know the situation, so he suggested to the church he attends they should hold a blood drive. Although many churches in other nations regularly host such drives, this is not a common practice in Korea.

To promote the blood drive, Seong posted on the online local community a week ahead. 

“Once we received positive responses from the online community, it beecame easier to attract people on the day of the event,” he recalled. 

It was also essential that members of the Cheonghak Church actively participate in the drive. The congregation’s previous charitable efforts—volunteer service, charity sales, and street cleanups—fostered positive attitudes among the congregation’s neighbors. 

“When the Cheonghak Church suggested blood donation, local people were pleased to participate without any prejudice of religion or church denomination. Rather, the church gained a good reputation from the people,” said Mr. Seong.  

The blood drive was held efficiently. Volunteers from the Cheonghak Church sent applicants a pre-screening questionnaire in advance primarily to make sure they met the eligibility requirements to donate blood. Furthermore, to avoid any possible exposure to the coronavirus due to gathering, the church divided applicants into groups and let them visit at the appointed time only and tried best to minimize contact with others. While waiting in line in front of the bus, they were wearing a mask, kept enough distance, and took a body temperature check.

The participants’ faces were filled with joy from helping others. “It was my first time to donate blood. For the past few days, I have drunk enough water and have tried to keep myself in good health condition. I am so glad that my little effort can help to save someone’s life, and I will participate again next time there is a blood drive,” said Kwon SoonYeon, a church deaconess.

There were a mother and daughter getting on the blood drive bus together. Kim YouBin, the daughter, is a college freshman. “I have donated blood since I was in high school, but this time it feels more meaningful because many people, health workers, and patients in Korea are suffering from the coronavirus outbreak. I hope more people join this blood donation,” she said. Her mother added she was proud of her daughter.

The church pastor Heo YoonKi expressed his deep appreciation for the donors and the volunteers from the church. “We have witnessed that the heart of sharing love with people in need has overcome the growing anxiety and fear amid the coronavirus pandemic. I hope many Adventists in Korea join the blood donation efforts,” said Pastor Heo.

The event finished around 5 p.m. A total of 77 people were checked for eligibility, and 55 who met screening criteria donated blood. The church gave donors a bottle of hand sanitizer and a pack of grape juice. Also, snacks and various gifts were donated from some of the local villagers. It was the day the Adventist church members and their neighbors worked together to make their community better.

 

This article was originally published on the Northern Asia-Pacific Division news site

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