(Facebook event page here)
1. 2S2 Anguk will need to split into two groups: one group will go to donate blood, but those of us who don't meet the requirements for donation will still meet up and do something else that'll be fun: at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, there's a photo exhibit of National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry, the guy who took this photo, and a bunch of others: (more here) Admission is 8000 won for adults. (photo source)
2. But if you want to donate blood...
A wonderful lady names Ms. Ban helped me get the full information about the blood clinic situation, and I'm passing it on to you.
First of all, as mentioned earlier, there are some caveats to donating blood; if you're B- or, under specific cases (if I have this right), if you're AB-, you might have the platelets necessary to help out our man Yoo-woon. If you're not, you might still be able to donate blood, but it'll be out of your own general awesomeness, not for helping out his boy specifically, provided you pass these hurdles.
Take a look at this document. Read it carefully.
Take a look at this document. Read it carefully.
If any of the questions/explanations on those two pages preclude giving blood, sorry: you can't do it. Yep, that means our UK friends can't give blood in Korea. Enjoy the photo exhibit!
Next: if you meet those requirements, and want to donate...
First of all, the nurse we talked to wants saying that everyone at the blood clinic really appreciates our desire to contribute. Next, here are the other requirements for foreigners who want to donate blood. There isn't much information on whether Korean-Hyphenated expats will have an easier time of it than straight-up non-Korean foreigners, but this lady had no trouble.
1. you need to have been in Korea for at least a full year. The person interviewing might take that to mean continuously (without leaving) or they might take it to mean you've lived here for a year with a few excursions, as long as you haven't traveled to those malaria-risk areas mentioned in the donation interview linked above.
2. you must have an Alien Registration Card.
3. you must be able to speak enough Korean to answer the questions in a personal interview about your medical history. There aren't English speakers in the clinic who can interview you, and we tried to suggest some work-around options, but we couldn't get it done. Sorry folks, but that's just the way it is at this point. I'm sure by 2015 there'll be workarounds in place, but for now, there aren't. Sorry.
So if you're stuck at "멕주 하나도 주세요" then look forward to hanging out at the photo exhibit.
If you're confident enough in your Korean that you could still donate blood, here's the next thing.
There are several types of blood transfusions. Our man Yoo-woon needs a different type of transfusion than the regular blood donation, because of his situation. It's a bit more involved than a normal donation: it takes 1-2 hours, and it can rupture blood vessels in some donors, so if you've given blood before and had no problems, you're eligible for this one. If you haven't given blood before, even if you're B-, the nurse suggests giving a regular, 10-15 minute donation on Saturday, and getting your name on the list of people they call when they need B- platelets (there's a list that they have, kind of a volunteer group of people whom they regularly call when they need it; the nurse says the B- supply is not reaching dangerous lows, but the larger that pool of volunteer donors is, the better off everyone is).
The nurse recommends this, first to check that your blood vessels will be robust enough to handle the more involved donation, second, because the special kind of donation Yoo-woon needs is perishable, so they can't keep it in storage: collecting a week's worth of B- platelets doesn't help much when it only lasts 3 days, and third, if we have a group going, it'd be really hard to process a bunch of 1-2 hour donations at the clinic's busiest time of week (Saturday afternoons) - we don't want to overwhelm the clinic on our first try, so that they decide "Forget it. Accommodating foreign donors is too much trouble. And start rejecting us out of hand, rather than just putting us through a rigmarole" If it's a smaller group and people meet all the criteria, they might be willing to go for the long version, but if we have a big group, I think that the best thing we can do is make this a really positive experience for the clinic, so that they think, "Yeah, we really SHOULD make it easier for foreigners to donate, if they're all as nice and cooperative as that group was."
So, given that this is going to be a first-time experience for this clinic, let's make sure this is a positive experience for them, so they'll be more amenable to accepting foreign donors in the future, and will be more likely to see the value of finding workarounds for that Korean language interview that, for now, rules out a lot of healthy, eligible donors from donating: I think that kind of long view is a good one to take, because it will enable us to help out more people in the long run, than if we come on too strong this time, and cause a negative reaction.
So, on Saturday afternoon, at 2PM, meet me on the second floor of Twosome Place, to the right of Exit 1, Anguk Station. At 2:30 sharp we'll head out to our various destinations.
See you there!