real life-giving experience in cambodia

angkor childrens hospital cambodiaStepping into a hospital is something that most travellers hope to avoid on their holidays, but recently Intrepid’s Jane Crouch was happy to make a special visit in Cambodia for a real life-giving experience…

“Siem Reap and its surrounds are so full of contrasts. You’ve got the extraordinary ruins of the various temples of Angkor, giving you some insight into ancient lives. There are the opulent hotels which remind you of how some of the rich may travel. And then you have in-your-face poverty, where you know some of the local people are unsure where their next meal will come from.

The conflict between the haves and have-nots can be unsettling. But in Siem Reap I found some salve for my conscience, in giving the best gift of all – life!

I gave blood at the Angkor Hospital for Children, right in the middle of downtown Siem Reap. They need regular healthy blood supplies as demand is great, and unfortunately they are unable to get enough regular local donors. Currently the outpatient department sees 300-400 children each day and maintains 50 inpatient beds.

The whole process only took about 40 minutes. I had an initial assessment and completed a questionnaire, to check I met donor requirements and it was safe for me to donate. The lab technician then took 2ml of my blood from my hand, to check my iron levels. Then I laid down on a bed and the technician took 350ml of my blood – quite a bit less than the usual approximately 580ml I would give in Australia.

The technician was exceptionally gentle, the needles were new sterile ‘international’ standard and after a 10 minute rest and some refreshments, I was fine to go. They gave me a t-shirt as thanks, saying ‘I gave blood to a friend’ on the back. I left the hospital with an extra spring in my step, after this little midday lie-down!

Whether you wish to give blood or not, do visit the Angkor Hospital for Children’s wonderful new visitor centre – that was funded by a donor to help visitors learn about the outstanding work being done at AHC. In the small theatre you can watch videos and gain a perspective on Cambodian culture and history, as well as appreciate the medical achievements and extraordinary story of AHC. In a country where only 40 doctors survived the ‘Killing Fields’, it’s great to get behind the wonderful work of this hospital, that not only treats tens of thousands of children each year, but also is committed to medical education and ensuring there will be future generations of skilled caring health professionals.”

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* photo by Jane Crouch

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Brought back memories of my trip to Cambodia and the Children’s hospital. Most Saturday evenings the Swiss Director gives a cello concert to raise funds for the hospital and I had the same experience as Jane, I came away with a spring in my step!'

Well done Jane. I, too, gave blood at the Children’s Hospital on a recent visit to Siem Reap after hearing from a fellow traveller of the need for donations.

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