After fulfilling your civic duty of casting the vote on Saturday, consider heading to Pietà to donate blood.

Several donors – including journalists – are often kept busy with political activities during the election campaign, putting blood donation on the backburner.

But the need for 50 bags a day remains, and the doors of the National Blood Transfusion unit, which is next to St Luke’s Hospital, in Pietà, are kept open throughout the week. In its most recent appeal, the unit is currently short of A Positive blood.

Blood donation is essential for cancer treatment, accidents and operations. Contacted by this newspaper, Tony Micallef, the practice nurse in charge of donor liaison, noted that June would see an additional number of scoliosis operations.  This is a yearly occurrence – with some 20 such procedures being carried out twice annually, in June and November.

Each operation requires an average of four bags of blood.

For Salvu Fenech, there is nothing more precious than donating “part of yourself”. He was speaking to the Times of Malta following his 100th donation since his first one back in 1985.

The mere knowledge that he has something which people are in constant need of drives Mr Fenech to the unit every three months or so.

“There’s very little pain which is followed by a lot of satisfaction,” the 55-year-old said, urging people to not only pick up the “good habit” of donating blood, but also register as an organ donor.

“I don’t know what is more precious than gifting a part of yourself. I would be happy knowing that I saved at least two lives with the 100 bags of blood that I donated,” he said.

Adrian Cassar donates blood platelets, which are mainly used for cancer treatment.

He started donating blood aged 18 and was eventually told he could donate platelets.

The 23-year-old is on call, and he actually looks forward to his donation session whenever the unit rings him up to see if he can spare a couple of hours… and some platelets. The two hours are a small price to pay for Mr Cassar, considering that his donation goes towards helping someone in the course of cancer treatment.

“It’s definitely worth my time. It is something small for the donor, because blood starts being replenished within hours, but it’s something big for the receiver,” Mr Cassar said.

“The whole experience makes you realise how truly priceless a healthy life is.”

The National Blood Transfusion unit is open from Monday to Sunday between 8am and 6pm. To keep updated, look up National Blood Transfusion Service – Malta on Facebook or download the Blood Donors MT app, available on the App Store and Google Play.

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