HAS GIVEN 85.5 LITRES

Global award winner who has donated blood 172 times

Arjun Mainali, 51, has saved the lives of 513 people.

In Summary

• Mainali has traversed six continents and donated blood 172 times

• Mainali who is a US citizen of Nepalese origin has done it for 32 years since August 20, 1987.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki when she hosted the leading global blood donor Arjun Mainali at Afya House on September 11.
Health CS Sicily Kariuki when she hosted the leading global blood donor Arjun Mainali at Afya House on September 11.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA
Kenya’s male and female highest blood donors, Alpha Kennedy Sanya and Aisha Dafalla get ready to donate blood outside the Kenya National Archives on September 11.
Kenya’s male and female highest blood donors, Alpha Kennedy Sanya and Aisha Dafalla get ready to donate blood outside the Kenya National Archives on September 11.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

In photos of him on the internet, Arjun Mainali, 51, seems to be perpetually reclined back, his hand stretched out and a tiny stress ball in the palm of his hand. 

The sleeve of his (mostly) white shirt is rolled back to the biceps and a band is tied there. He is donating blood, almost all the time, with a smile on his face. 

Across six continents, Mainali has donated 85.5 litres of blood, enough blood to power 17 people.

In the last 32 years, Mainali has donated blood 172 times. He has donated whole blood 123 times and platelets 49 times. 

 

He has spent 5,650 minutes to draw his blood and platelets, which equals to bearing the needle on his arm for 94 hours and 12 minutes.

Going by the World Health Organization standards, one unit of blood saves three lives. It means Mainali has saved the lives of 513 people.

The US citizen of Nepalese origin is in the country to educate, advocate, encourage, promote and create awareness among Kenyans on the importance of blood donations.

So far he has reached millions of people globally with blood donation messages in his numerous crusades and blood donation campaigns.

“Donating blood at least once a year will not harm you. See I am 51 years old, I donated 172 times and I am still strong. You can donate 500ml that can save up to three people,” he said on Wednesday.

He made the appeal to Kenyans even as the country's blood banks are running dry.

The country currently has 170,000 blood units against the 1,000,000 recommended by WHO, according to Health Ministry data.

“I came all the way from New York. I travelled 12,000km to be here just to donate blood. I heard in Africa  600,000 pregnant women die due to not getting blood on time.

“That made me sad and so I realised I have to go there and ask people to donate blood. I would like to ask the youth now it is your turn, please donate blood. Donating blood is not harmful,” he said.

Mainali has travelled to 16 countries to donate blood. 

They include the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, Macau, Bermuda, Thailand, Nepal, India, Ecuador, Haiti, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

“I have travelled 16 different countries to sponsor blood drives, to motivate people, ask them to donate blood and donate with them. I started in Nepal and migrated to the US in 2000. I started to sponsor blood drives since 2008.”

His more than 300 blood drives and campaigns have motivated more than 200,000 people and attracted 15,000 blood donors, blood quantity that can save up to 45,000 people.

“Someone weighing 110 pounds and is 17 years old can donate six times a year in the US, in Africa and Europe it is four times a year, Mainali added.

In Kenya, donors should be 16 to 65 years, at least 50kg and above, and their haemoglobin level should be at 12.5. There is no maximum weight stipulated for the donation of blood.

Mainali was hosted by the Health CS Sicily Kariuki together with Kenya’s male highest blood donor, Alpha Kennedy Sanya and female, Aisha Dafalla.

Sanya and Dafalla have donated 91 and 63 times respectively.

Dafalla, 56, has been donating blood since she was 17 years and does it four times in a year when she is not pregnant or breastfeeding.

“Three spoons of blood can save the life of a baby,” she said. She says she will stop when she is 60.

Sanya who is a prosecutor at the Nakuru county government, on the other hand, donates three times a year, during April, August and December holidays. He started donating in 1982.

“There are no incentives, it is a sacrifice. The secret is eating healthy. My wife comes from Nandi so I always have mursik at my disposal,” he said. 

Sanya who is in his late 40s was given a Head of State Commendation by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016.

(edited by O. Owino)