TT champion Ethirajan completes silver jubilee year in blood donation

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Chennai: There is a general perception among sportspersons that blood donation will lead to body weakness and poor performance in games. But meet R Ethirajan (50) who has etched his name not only in sports but also in blood donation.

Being a champion in table tennis continuously for a staggering 23 years, he has also donated blood continuously for 25 years. Residing close to the famous Saidapet Perumal Temple in the city, he was recently felicitated by Tamilnadu Congress Committee president Su Thirunnavukkarasar for his silver jubilee feat in blood donation. He spoke to News Today about the importance of donating blood.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: How did you get interested in sports and blood donation?

A: My father, late Kamalanabhan, was a sportsman when he was working at Central Bank of India. When I got the opportunity to start a career in the same bank, I automatically developed interest in sports. My mother, R Prema (75), wife E Lakshmi (47) and daughter Jansi Rani (16), were also behind my taking up games full-fledged. My interest in blood donation came after I went through newspaper articles about its importance and how the nation was lacking in the area.

Q: What are your achievements so far?

A: My greatest achievement is completing silver jubilee in blood donation for which I was felicitated by Tamilnadu Congress Committee president Su Thirunnavukkarasar recently. So far, I have not let go even a single opportunity to donate blood – I have done it even during auspicious days like New Year when people don’t usually come forward to do it. According to Cancer Institute, if one donates blood continuously for a year, s/he gives life to four people. This means, through my 25 years of continuous blood donation, I have saved 100 lives indirectly. Secondly, I am the Central Bank of India table tennis champion continuously for 23 years also completing ITTF-PTT level one table tennis coaching course from the International Table Tennis Federation.

Q: From your experience, what are the primary requirements for blood donation?

A: Anyone can donate blood once every six months. If one is extraordinarily fit, s/he can donate blood even every three months. The first requirement is weight which should be 45 kg and above. Then, blood pressure and haemoglobin should be normal. One should give blood only after ensuring these aspects, else, s/he might become unconscious and would never have the psychological impulse to donate blood.

Q: Let us know the importance of blood donation.

A: According to data, India needs four crore units of blood every year but the country is getting only 40 lakh units every year leading to delayed or no blood at all for deserving patients. Every two seconds, someone in our country needs blood. So, it will be better if everyone came forward for this cause. Also, there is a general perception among sportsmen that donating blood would reduce their ability to perform better. But I am a living example that it is a myth as I have been a table tennis champion for 23 years.

Q: What are you planning ahead?

A: I want to continue donating blood while also striving to retain my title for as many years as possible. On 18 January 2004, I pledged my eyes to Sankara Nethralaya Medical Research Foundation. Now, I have decided to pledge to donate my entire body in the coming days.

S Ben Raja