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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saudi embassy draws hundreds to mark World Blood Donor Day

Staff writer

About 200 people came to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tokyo on Saturday to roll up their sleeves for World Blood Donor Day.

News photo
So others may live: Naif Al-Suwailem, a 23-year-old student from Saudi Arabia, donates blood inside a Japanese Red Cross vehicle during a blood drive at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tokyo on Saturday. KAZUAKI NAGATA PHOTO

Saudi Arabia organized blood drives at all its embassies around the world to mark the event this year, which fell on Saturday.

"I think having a blood donation at an embassy is a really interesting idea, and it made it easier for me to come," said Tokyo resident Satomi Ebara.

Ebara said she wanted to learn more about Saudi Arabia as well as give blood.

The event at the Tokyo embassy was held in collaboration with the Japanese Red Cross Society. It was initially meant to encourage blood donation among Saudi Arabian students in Japan, but was eventually opened to the general public to collect greater amounts of blood.

After the embassy notified the media about the event, which includes meals fordonors, the embassy was deluged by responses, and about 5,000 people applied to give blood, said Sachiko Nishi, a public relations official at the embassy. Nishi said the meals are meant as a small reward for those who go out of their way for a good cause over the weekend and are also a way to share the country's culture.

The embassy said it decided to accept the first 800 applicants as well as 40 Saudi Arabian students for the two-day event.

The large response "shows that Saudi Arabian and Japanese citizens have the hearts to save people," said Saudi Arabian Ambassador Faisal Hassan Trad.

As of 1 p.m. on Saturday, 158 people had already arrived at the embassy to partake in the Saudi Arabian cuisine on hand, such as Kabsa, a traditional rice dish served for lunch.

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The Japan Times

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