CHRIS Bester received his 275th blood donation milestone award during the Port Elizabeth donor award function that was held on November 4.He worked as a volunteer at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto around the early 1950s.
During his time at this hospital, he expe-rienced horrific trauma scenes and the challenge of not having
access to sufficient blood, and the loss of life as a result.
These scenes made a lasting impression on Chris and it highlighted the importance of blood donation.
A couple of years later, he finally signed up as a blood donor in Pretoria, with a friend. As a blood donor, he knew that his blood group was O positive, compatible with all other rhesus positive blood groups.
Chris worked in Malawi for two years around 1969 and 1970 at Telkom on a contract. During his stay he visited a hospital in the north, in a small village called Livingstonia.
He is not quite sure why he ended up at this hospital, but looking back, he believes that he was meant to be there. There was quite a bit of commotion in the hospital and Chris became aware that there was a patient in labour who needed a blood transfusion. He approached the Irish doctor, who worked there as a volunteer, and agreed to be a blood donor for this patient since he knew he is O positive.
The doctor then arranged for a direct transfusion and the patient and her baby survived.
This gave him a great sense of relief and pride that he was able to make a difference. It stood out as his fondest memory with regard to blood donation.“I never realized that I would be able to donate so many units of blood as it was never about the milestones. For me it is about being privileged enough to be healthy in order to make a difference,” Bester said. He added that blood donation allows one the opportunity to be involved with the people around you and that it saves lives. “Although you will never meet the patient who used your blood, the sense of knowing that you are making a difference, is a precious thought and feeling which makes blood donation so rewarding.”