Volunteering in Vietnam: Giving blood during the pandemic

Microsoft Vietnam employees and partners donate to the Red Cross when blood supplies run low amid COVID-19 fears

When COVID-19’s swept across Vietnam just after the Tết Lunar New Year festival medical authorities and the Red Cross were stretched and worried.

As well as battling the pandemic, they had to deal with a dramatic shortage of donated blood.

Tết is the most important extended holiday period on the country’s calendar. Many people stream out of the two biggest cities – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City – to visit families and friends in their hometowns and villages.

The Vietnamese Red Cross is used to seeing blood donation rates dip at this time of year and rely on them to rebound quickly once people return from their annual break.

That, however, did not happen this time – due to fears around COVID-19.

A woman smiles as she sits and goves blood as a nurse watches on

“The thought that my blood could save someone’s life gave me the courage to  participate.” 

— Huyen Nguyen, Microsoft Vietnam tax manager 

“We usually host several donation events after long holidays to refill shortages in the blood bank, which tend to happen after the Lunar New Year,” explains Tran Truong Son, the President of the HMC Red Cross. “But given the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak this year, many people avoided going to our blood donation centers.”

At one stage, medical authorities estimated that available blood supplies had fallen to around 10 percent of normal levels, endangering the treatment of the sick and injured patients. With the gap between supply and demand widening fast, many hospitals across the country feared they were just days away from running out.

Red Cross workers converted office space into temporary donation centers at our premises in Hanoi and HCM. Employees from other businesses in Microsoft’s buildings in the two cities also joined in. Some members of the media also donated.

In all, 148 donors gave 34,800 milliliters of blood.

Tran says that the donations came at just the right time and “surely helped bring hope and life to many people. We truly appreciate that.”

Many participants had never given blood before.

“I was nervous as it was my first time to donate,” says Huyen Nguyen, who is a Microsoft tax manager in HCM.

“However, the thought that my blood could save someone’s life gave me the courage to participate. I am proud of myself for being a part of this meaningful activity, and I would like to encourage everyone to donate. If I can do it, you can do it too.”

Two men sit as the give blood woith a male nurse sitting between them
ABOVE: Tung Nguyen, a journalist from TGS (left), and Huy Pham, a technical expert on modern workplace solutions at Microsoft Vietnam, were among 148 donors.

Top image caption:  Lien Nguyen, Finance Analyst, Microsoft Vietnam.

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