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Donate blood, save lives

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IN THE last days of December, 2018, to middle of January 2019, due to some health challenges, I was on admission in the hospital.

Towards the end of my stay there, it was discovered that my blood level was low and to help build it up, a blood transfusion was recommended. But that did not go down with my husband and he suggested the alternative use of blood enhancing drugs. Thanks to God, it worked and now I am on my feet again.

Why is blood transfusion or blood donation necessary?

According to experts, blood donation is necessary because it is not all anaemic conditions that can be managed with blood enhancing drugs. In other words, some conditions require blood transfusion for the life of the patient to be saved.

Despite advances in medicine and scientific technology, one thing that has not been successfully created artificially is blood.

Being a natural “product” in the human body, blood is composed of red or white cells, proteins and a fluid called plasma; in which these cells and constituents are suspended.

These constituents are produced by the body in response to chemical messages, from mainly the kidneys and the bone marrow.

Tomorrow, Nigeria and the world will celebrate World Blood Donor Day. The day is marked every June 14 since 2014. World Blood Donor Day was created by World Health Organisation (WHO), as one of the eight global initiatives started by the agency.

WHO also decided to create World Blood Donor Day as a way to acknowledge the contributions of Prof Karl Landsteiner (Prof of Pathological Immunologist and Nobel prize winner) for his great discovery of the ABO blood group system.

This year’s global event will be celebrated in Kigali, Rwanda and the theme of this event is ‘Blood Donation and Universal Access to Safe Blood Transfusion, As a Component of Achieving Universal Health Coverage’.

WHO has developed the slogan “ Safe Blood for All” to raise awareness of the universal need for safe blood in delivery of health care and the crucial roles voluntary donations play in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.

This year’s theme encourages more people all over the world to become blood donors and donate blood regularly.

Also, the theme is a call to action to all governments national health authorities and national blood services to provide adequate resources and put in place systems and infrastructures to increase collection of blood from voluntary, regular unpaid donor; to provide quality donor care; to promote and implement appropriate clinical use of blood and to set up systems for the oversight and surveillance in the chain of blood transfusion.

The transfusion of blood products save lives every year. Blood and blood products are essential components in the proper management of women suffering from bleeding associated with pregnancy and child birth; children suffering from anaemia due to malaria and nutrition; patients with blood bone marrow disorders, inherited disorders of haemoglobin and immune deficiency conditions.

The need for blood and blood products is universal. There is a difference in the level of access to safe blood and blood products across and within countries.

In many countries, blood services face additional challenges of making sufficient blood and blood products available, while also ensuring its quality safety.

Speaking on the importance of blood donation, a medical practitioner Dr Eby Nze, noted that blood donation is very important because it helps to maintain adequate blood supplies to the blood bank

She said not all medical conditions needed blood transfusion but in some cases, such as very low anaemia, during surgery where there is excessive loss of blood, sever loss in child birth or operations.

The medical practitioner said the benefits of donating blood varies and these include; reducing risk of cancer, reducing risk of liver damage, Haemochromatosis (those that have too much blood).

Dr Nze noted that donation of blood can be done every three months and ideally, should be done by adults from 18 years. She said that whenever blood is donated, it should be screened of infections.

Also speaking on blood donation, a haematologist, Dr Tomi Olaiya, called for education and awareness to encourage people to donate blood and also have deep understanding that it can save lives.

Commenting on challenges in making blood and blood products available, she identified funds and unwillingness of people not wanting to donate blood.

A photo journalist, Mr Gbenga informed that donation of blood is very good because it will help save lives. He charged people to always voluntarily donate blood.

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