Spirit of Hong Kong 2014

Spirit of Hong Kong

Kindness is in ex-policeman's blood

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 May, 2015, 12:37pm

Retired police officer Li Kam-keung keeps himself fit. At 59, he is tanned and honed through swimming and running, among other sports.

Personal fitness is one of his hobbies, but it also has a more altruistic purpose. Li is Hong Kong's longest-serving blood donor, having started his self-sacrificing endeavour at the age of 18. In order to give blood on average every two weeks, he needs to be in peak condition.

As of June this year, Li, a former traffic policeman, had made 549 donations - the highest number recorded by any donor at the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service.

According to the Red Cross, which nominated Li in the "Self-sacrifice to Achieve Greater Good" category of the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards 2014, Li's efforts have benefited hundreds of patients. The organisation says Li should be recognised as a role model who inspires the younger generation.

As an adult male, Li can give whole blood once every three months and, every two weeks, apheresis, in which platelets or plasma are drawn from the blood, with the rest returned to the donor.

"I would regard it more as a habit these days than a service to the community," the self-effacing Li says. "We should be helping other people anyway. I'm very happy to be a nominee for the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards; it's a form of recognition and will also raise awareness about donating blood."

Li's community spirit has encouraged his wife, son and daughter to become blood donors. "We actually did a blood donation video together," he says. He has also taken part in many Red Cross donor recruitment drives.

"The whole [donation] process takes about 11/2 hours in terms of the preparation and then it's your rest time afterwards," Li says. "I don't find it tiring at all. My blood is checked at the beginning and then I give the donation. I've been retired for four years now, but when I used to work, it was in Hung Hom and the senior officers would reschedule my shifts to fit in with my blood donation times."

Dr Lee Cheuk-kwong, a consultant at the blood transfusion service, said: "Li has helped us a lot with acting as a role model, raising awareness about giving blood. He's also appeared at many ceremonies for us to explain how giving blood is a very simple process and there is no loss of energy or immunity through it. He's helped so many patients."