Blood donations needed in Gwangju

By Whit Altizer

One of our most famous ex-pats and one of the really good guys of Gwangju was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Michael Simning was once an English teacher and part owner of the famous Speakeasy in town.
Now Mike is a DJ on the Gwangju radio station, GFN, as a host of City of Light; owner of The First Alleyway (that does a damn good huevos rancheros by the way) and owner of The Underground Grocer, a foreign grocery store for homesick foreigners(bless your tortillas and Honey Nut Cheerios).

In addition to being a husband and father, Mike also plays an active role in a girls’ orphanage in town and does an excellent job of welcoming every new foreigner to Gwangju. He was one of the first people Lindsay and I met in town and somehow he made both of us breathe a little easier when we were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. He is the kind of guy that remembers meeting you and on the second meeting makes you feel like an old friend.

Now Mike needs our help and we are having trouble giving him the help he needs.  Mike’s blood type is B- which is super rare and he needs blood transfusions as part of his treatment.  If you don’t know your blood type and you are in Korea, take your alien card to a local clinic and get tested.  You could be a major help to someone who has always been very helpful to others.

Another ex-pat, Hughie Samson, sent this letter out the other day.
A few days ago Michael Simning – an expat in Gwangju – visited the hospital because he wasn’t feeling very well. He discovered that he has leukemia, was admitted into the hospital immediately, and has started to undergo chemotherapy treatments. As part of his treatment Michael needs to receive several blood transfusions.

Michael’s blood type is B-, which is very rare, and so he, his family, and his friends are trying to find people in Korea who can donate blood to him immediately as well as periodically throughout the next couple of weeks. (O- blood won’t work in this case.)

If your blood type is B-, and you are able and willing to donate, please consider contacting Tim Whitman at 011.9600.6378 or tugrocers@gmail.com. Tim will pass your name and phone number along to Michael and his family.

You can also help by passing this message along to friends of yours here in Korea too.
Many people — unfortunately — don’t know their blood type. You can find out yours — and at the same time find out if you can help Michael — by visiting a hospital in your area.     The procedure is relatively painless and should only take a few minutes.mike

In case you’re worried about communicating with the staff, you can print out and show them the following information, which explains to them why you’re there and why you need this information:

친구가 백혈병에 걸려서 도움이 필요합니다.

제 친구는 Rh-B 형 입니다.

제 혈액형 검사받고 하고 싶습니다. Rh-/Rh+ 인지까지 정확히 검사 받고싶습니다.

Once you find out your blood type, and if it is B-, you can do the same as those who already know theirs: contact Tim Whitman at 011.9600.6378 or tugrocers@gmail.com.
In the meantime Michael’s immune system is very weak so he isn’t able to receive any visitors. He is able to communicate using the internet and telephone, however, and many friends have been wishing him well using Facebook.

And as a side note: Mike’s sickness and rehabilitation may cause a lot of financial strain to him and his wife and daughter, so if you are in Gwangju, please consider supporting him in a very direct manner by shopping at the Underground Grocers and by eating at the First Alleyway, both of which will remain open in his absence.

Underground Grocers is open on Wednesday from 11 to 7, on Thursday and Friday from 1 to 7, and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 7; the First Alleway is open Wednesday to Saturday from 5 to 10ish and on Sunday from 11 to 5 for an all day breakfast.