Man, 25, needs a blood transfusion every 3 weeks

He sees himself as any regular guy. He plays sports, has a girlfriend and plans to get married.

But once a month, he spends nine hours at the Singapore General Hospital for a blood transfusion.

Mr Melvin Wong, 25, has thalassemia major, a blood condition that requires him to have a blood transfusion every three weeks.

There was a 25 per cent chance that he would have the condition after he inherited two thalassemia genes - one from each of his parents, who are thalassemia minors.

And without new blood every month, he may die.

So Mr Wong said he is particularly grateful to the strangers who have donated blood, even though he may not know who they are.

"My blood type is AB, which is rare.

Whenever I think of how these strangers spend time and effort to donate blood to help people like me, I feel extremely grateful," he said.

"They sacrifice their time to give blood to complete strangers. I find such spirit of giving really heartwarming."

The advertising account executive has had the condition since he was born, but he said that did not stop him from living a full life.

Never treated differently

'Never treated differently'

"My family never treated me differently. I behaved like a normal kid, fighting with my brother, breaking things in the house and so on.

"The only difference is that I have to go to the hospital for new blood once a month. I try to think of myself as a car. I just need to refill my petrol every month," the cheerful man added jokingly.

Mr Wong, who was with the Ngee Ann Polytechnic softball team, loves sports.

The sports junkie, who likes basketball, football and running, plays tennis as regularly as he can. But he confesses that he is often busy with work.

"I want to show people that those with thalassemia can be efficient workers too. In fact, my employers are very supportive and understanding. They give me time off if I need to go to the hospital for a blood test," he said.

"I know of some (thalassemia) patients who would hide their condition from their employers. But there is nothing to hide.

"I'm a very normal guy. I can do normal things like playing sports and going to work. It's just that I may die if I don't have new blood. So I try to live my life to the fullest."

This article was first published in The New Paper.