Across China: Australian volunteer forms blood bond with Chinese
After finishing a physical examination and giving a blood sample, Peter Mecoy deftly rolled up his sleeve, peacefully watched the nurse insert a needle into his arm, and waited for another round of blood donation.
"I am quite familiar with the blood donation process here," said Peter, 58, who hails from Australia. He has been volunteering to donate blood and platelets almost every 15 days for nearly 15 years in north China's Tianjin Municipality.
"I have lived in China for half of my life. China is my home. Chinese people are like my brothers and sisters. Helping family is the right thing to do, isn't it?" Peter said, "Maybe my blood can help mothers delivering babies or aged people in surgery. I am happy to be helpful."
Peter changed his job and first set foot in Tianjin in 1992. He quickly fell in love with the metropolis with its combination of Chinese and Western cultures. The modest, friendly, and hardworking Chinese people moved him deeply.
"Chinese people make friends with us first. Friends work together. It should not be like 'I gain, you lose,' but win-win and seeking a way to move forward together," Peter said.
He saw a Chinese and English leaflet about blood donation by chance in 2008. Without much delay, he donated blood at a nearby bloodmobile for the first time in China.
In the beginning, Peter chose to donate whole blood semiannually. Later, he learned that platelet donations could be made every two weeks. He became a frequenter of the Tianjin Blood Center.
"When I first met Peter, I was still a rookie. I felt so nervous when drawing blood. Peter told me to relax. His words were encouraging for me," said Li Mantong, a nurse at the Tianjin Blood Center.
Peter also received the nickname "Panda Man" as his blood type is called "Panda blood" -- a rare blood type -- in China. "This makes me feel that it is meaningful to insist on donating blood."
Peter has donated blood and platelets more than 270 times, equivalent to more than 420,000 milliliters of blood in terms of therapeutic volume. It is about 90 times the amount of blood in an adult and can ensure many people's clinical blood use.
After each donation, Peter would obtain a blood donation certification. "I collected a stack of them. These cards have witnessed my blood donation experiences. They are the most precious gifts to me."
According to regulations in Tianjin, Peter can no longer donate blood when he reaches the age of 60, so he cherishes every chance to donate blood. "I want to donate as many times as possible and hope to attract more people to join the volunteer team."
Peter has a WeChat group, gathering dozens of foreign people who want to become blood donors.
"My friends come from all over the world. It does not matter if their Chinese is good or not. I will help them as long as they are willing to donate blood. I can teach them the process step by step," Peter said.
Recently, Peter won a Chinese national award for his blood donation behavior. "If someone learns my story and becomes a blood donor to help more people in need, I will feel happier," Peter said.
Peter Mecoy poses for a photo while donating blood at the Tianjin Blood Center in Tianjin, north China, Nov. 14, 2022.
Peter Mecoy (R) holds two pieces of paper with handwritten words reading "I love China" and "I love Tianjin" at home in Tianjin, north China, Nov. 14, 2022.
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