TIANJIN, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Li Rui, 23, a senior student at Tianjin Medical University, has 29 voluntary blood donation certificates. Li said she has donated platelets up to twice a month since the end of 2016, except winter and summer vacations.
Li first donated in Tianjin's blood center in November 2016 after her father fell seriously ill. She said that made her realize how fragile and precious life was.
After that, the 23-year-old student has been a regular of the center. The first time Li donated blood she learned that a large number of leukemia patients in China are the most in need of platelets, a vital blood component for their treatment.
Meanwhile, platelet donations significantly help reduce the possible side effects of whole-blood transfusion.
"From start to finish, a platelet donation takes about three hours since it uses a machine to extract just your platelets and then returns the rest of your blood back to you," Li said.
"Meanwhile, both arms are used during the donation," she added. "Usually a couple of days after each donation, I will receive a text message saying that my blood has been put into clinical use and that's when I feel that my efforts have been worthwhile."
The 23-year-old also set up a group on social media platform Wechat, now with over 300 members, to call upon more of her schoolmates to join the cause. She often shares knowledge about blood donation in the group.
"It usually takes three days for the body's platelets to return to normal after a donation," said Li. "Therefore, donors are allowed to donate again 15 days after the last donation as long as he or she is proved a qualified donor," said Li, repeating the instructions from Jia Xinji, a donor recruiter at Tianjin's blood center.
Now, Li shares her knowledge about blood donations with her friends, relatives, and schoolmates. "This might be a small individual attempt, but efforts will pay off as more people in China come to realize the significance of blood donation," Li said.
Li is one of an ever-growing number of blood donors in China which registered a total of 14.59 million blood donations last year, almost 45 times the number in 1998.
The country recorded nearly 6 million blood donations and 2,065 tons of donated blood from January to May this year, up 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent respectively year on year, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).
"A growing number of volunteers like Li Rui have contributed to the increase of blood donation at our center in recent years," Jia said. "Meanwhile, the city has rolled out favorable policies to encourage such behaviors, such as waiving blood processing fees at hospitals if a donor donates more than 1,000 ml within five years."
Similar policies have also been introduced in other cities across the country, such as Beijing and Shanghai.
"The blood for clinical use in China now entirely comes from voluntary blood donations," said Zhou Changqiang, an official with the NHC on Thursday.
"Over the past two years, blood donation has become a part of my life," said Li, adding that she and her parents also benefit from the policies because of her donations.
The number of voluntary blood donations has seen 20 years of consecutive growth in China, from 328,000 in 1998 to 14.59 million in 2017, figures from the NHC showed.
The number of voluntary blood donors and the volume of blood collected in the country from January to November this year increased by 3 and 4 percent respectively year on year, according to Zhou with the NHC.