From left, Kaspar with his youngest brother Aleksander, Alar, Karin and Steven Sillamaa. Photo Sander Ilvest/Postimees
Kaspar Sillamaa from Tallinn has given blood on as many occasions as his age in years. This is a rare case, but it is no wonder because his entire family are active donors.
«I have donated blood on as many occasions as my age in years. It is a kind of family tradition and it is great to know that you can do so much good with such a simple act,» says Kaspar Sillamaa (24). He was urged to give blood for the first time by his aunt who worked at the Blood Centre in Ädala Street. «When I turned 18, she said to me that now I am legally an adult and can become a donor. So I made my first blood donation and since then, I give blood every three months,» says Kaspar, describing the start of his donation career.
His brother Steven (23) also went to give blood for the first time soon after his coming of age, again after being encouraged by their aunt. «The first time I went with a relative, just to try it out. My family is a great example in this respect. Although I do not donate blood as often as my older brother or father, I still try to make my contribution,» explains Steven. «When you get used to giving blood regularly, you stop thinking about why exactly it is so important. What counts is that your blood may actually help save someone’s life,» he adds. In the Sillamaa family, mother Karin (44) was the first one to start giving blood. She and her husband Alari (47) started to give blood in the late 1990s when their sons were already born. He went to donate blood for the first time in his life just a week after she had done it. Both are active donors until this day. For a while, Karin developed a routine of always donating blood at Christmas and around Midsummer’s Day. Recently, it is twice a year that she goes to give blood. As a rule, women are allowed to give blood four times a year, but Karin explains that sometimes it is her low haemoglobin levels that keep her from donating blood. Alar says that lately he has given blood about four times a year. Both are satisfied with their contribution and according to Karin, one should not go to extremes in this regard. «I appreciate giving blood because it helps others stay in good health. If there is great need, maybe it is our blood that makes all the difference,» Alar contemplates. According to Karin, the quality of her blood, keeping in mind that she does not smoke, has always been in the normal range. She says that more than the exact number of donations, she values information on her health and the condition of her blood. «My problem lies rather in my working out every day – on the day of making a blood donation I have to skip a workout,» mentions Karin. Some limitations and restrictions apply to donating blood as well. For example, Alar says that theoretically, the number of their family’s blood donations could be higher if it were not for the excessively high haemoglobin levels. However, there are times when the body has not been able to recover appropriately and haemoglobin levels are too low.
«Until now, this has been our only problem, and we have not encountered any diseases or other restrictions,» says Karin.
The Sillamaas announce jointly that they plan to keep donating blood in the future. «There is no reason or obstacle to hold us back from giving blood,» Karin and Alar express.
«I think I will continue giving blood until I will be told ‘No’ one day,» says Kaspar firmly.
«The rest depends largely on my workouts and job. I have been turned down a number of times because of too low haemoglobin levels due to my working out in the morning. Otherwise, I am prepared to continue giving blood,» adds Steven.
Dr Julia Tamme, doctor at the Blood Centre, is also very glad for the contribution of the Sillmaas. «All our donors set a fine example and are worthy of respect. It is great to see that Alar, the head of the family, has got his sons involved as well and the whole family has devoted themselves to helping the sick through donating blood,» says Dr Tamme.
The article A young man’s example worthy of imitation was published on 16 June 2015 in the health supplement of Postimees daily.