A Good Samaritan on a motorcycle

For decades, a Finnish motorist association, SMOTO (Suomen Motoristit ry), has been actively encouraging its members to donate blood. Raimo Ryhtä, a motorist and active blood donor from the city of Forssa, has a goal of riding his motorcycle always to a new place to extend his helping hand, or rather, his arm.

“In the winter, driving 170 kilometres one way is still a reasonable journey, but in the summer, I have even driven all the way to Oulu to donate blood,” says Raimo Ryhtä, a semi-retired farming entrepreneur who lives in the Jokioinen area in Forssa.

When he arrived in Oulu, it was difficult at first to draw blood from his arm.

“I then jumped on the neighbouring chair and they tried drawing blood from my left arm, and we managed to fill a bag,” Ryhtä still remembers with amusement.

“So, you shouldn’t take things too seriously, as it is always also about the love you feel for your hobby, that is, the joy of riding.

I have made three “lost errands” over the years, but more than 90 times I have still managed to be of help!” Ryhtä says.

One’s hobby and the wish to do good combined

Over the years, Ryhtä has made nearly 100 trips across the country from Hanko to Oulu with his motorcycle to donate blood, as his goal is to see as many different donation sites as possible. So far, he has visited more than 60 sites.

On an early spring day in April, he had decided to try out a blood donation bus which was in Kontula in Helsinki. The alternative would have been a blood donation event in Kitee, in eastern Finland, but for a ride in the winter, this shorter distance was more suitable.

"In the bus, I was surprised how much room there was; the experience was very pleasant,” says Raimo Ryhtä after his first donation in a bus. Another blood donation site he has not yet visited is the new donation point in Jumbo-Flamingo in Vantaa. This donation point also offers the possibility to donate platelets or plasma, which he is tempted to try.

SMOTO has helped thousands of patients

Ryhtä has been involved in the activities of Forssan Matkamotoristit, his local association for travelling motorists, since 1978 and is a founding member of the umbrella organisation SMOTO, i.e. Finnish Motorists. For years, SMOTO has challenged its membership clubs to compete with each other in their blood donation activity. The goal is a total of 800–1,000 blood donations per year, and the club that has achieved the most donations will be rewarded.

There are a few other active blood donors in Forssan Matkamotoristit which Raimo Ryhtä represents, but he does admit that the challenge campaign demands a lot.

“My club has 150 members, and if you can get even 15 of them to donate once a year, you have your work cut out for you in trying to get them to take action,” he describes.

Especially attracting new donors is very challenging. Sometimes members ride together to donate blood, but Ryhtä has mainly travelled to donate on his own. The club members have a lot of activities from weekly club evenings to winter swimming and trips to their holiday homes, after which they will usually go for a ride.

A vital activity

Ryhtä says that he has been less active in club duties now for a few years, but he intends to continue with blood donation as long as his age and health will allow.

The goal is to reach 100 blood donations, which will most certainly happen within a couple of years.

“Donating blood is important, and I have seen in my own close circle that donated blood is needed,” Ryhtä mentions.

Until now, his body has been able to withstand blood donation, and after having his post-donation coffee, he always jumps back on his motorcycle and starts his ride back – as he is sometimes quite a long way from home! And at home, he still has his farm work to do.

Text: Iira Hartikainen

Last modified: 24.04.2024