Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists and community members donated more than 2,000 units of blood in Colombia’s first nationwide blood drive July 21 and 22.
Church youth leaders promoted the Adventist Church-sponsored event in 15 major Colombian cities for several months with the support of Colombia’s National Health Institute and the Red Cross.
Campaign coordinator Alvaro Niño said the event raised the Adventist Church’s profile, especially in the city of Medellin where the demand for blood far exceeds the supply.
“We as a church want to continue contributing to the welfare of others here in Colombia,” Niño said. “Because word has gone out with this blood drive, there are other projects on the table for which the National Health Institute is soliciting our assistance.”
Like many other first-time blood donors, 20-year-old student and church youth leader Elias Velazquez anxiously waited in line to give blood along with several friends.
“I feel good doing this, especially [since] I have O negative, a rare blood type, and there are so many banks where blood is scarce.” After donating, Velasquez said he would organize a similar blood drive with his own youth group.
Another first-time donor, Magali Gonzalez, 25, a student at Colombian Adventist University in Medellin, was a little uneasy as the needle went into her arm. She said she got scared at the last minute while waiting in line but felt she had to donate despite her fear.
“I had to,” Gonzalez said. “I realized that by donating my blood I can help save a person’s life.”
Victoria Villegas, state coordinator of Antioquia’s blood banks, commended the Adventist Church for initiating the campaign and expressed hope that the young donors would make giving blood a habit.
Villegas said although the amount of blood donated fell short of her expectations, it would help stock the region’s 11 blood banks. Those conducting the drive said many volunteers were turned away because of health risks.
The blood drive extended into the Inter-American region of the church’s first Youth Leadership and Prayer Convention, which began July 24. Nearly 500 additional blood donations were collected during the weeklong convention.
Niño, the coordinator, said giving blood wasn’t just a humanitarian gesture, but a constant reminder of God who sent His Son who gave His blood on the cross. The campaign’s slogan was “Jesus gave His blood for me, I give mine for a Colombian.”
Colombia has more than 244,000 Adventists worshiping in 1,031 churches and congregations.