By Dr. Bright Oniovokukor
In Africa, blood is one thing that everyone is conscious about as the sight of blood is usually scary and people are weary of it. Some persons have actually attributed their phobia for the sight of blood as the major reason why they could not study health related courses while some give so much respect to health workers for their ability to stand the sight of blood. However, we know that health workers do not see blood every day except in emergency situations.
The undisputed fact remains that BLOOD is one unique thing that scientists have not being able to produce hence for anyone that requires blood, there must be a BLOOD DONOR to get this done. Usually the body system is programmed to produce the quantity and quality of blood that the system requires except when the systems become compromised from some factors such:
a. Out right blood loss from bleeding e.g during delivery, accident, surgery etc
b. Destruction of blood cells leading to anaemia e.g. from malaria, sickle disease, infections, haemolytic disease in newborn etc
c. Chronic ailment such as cancer, kidney failure etc
d. Failure of the system to produce adequately such as in malnutrition, exposure to toxic agents etc.
The factors above and many more can present emergency situation that may require blood transfusion and if there is no ready donor, the person would die as the quality of blood in the system is directly proportional to the quality of life.
The need to appreciate the efforts of BLOOD DONORS can never be overemphasized especially the voluntary non-remunerated donors whose blood are stored in blood banks for use when emergencies arise. Many of the BLOOD DONORS do not know who they are donating for nor the recipient is aware of whose is he or she receiving; the most important thing is that a life has been saved. Apart from the satisfaction that a life has been saved, regular voluntary non-remunerated BLOOD DONORS have opportunity of living a health life for the following reasons:
a. Blood donation has a way of cleaning their system.
b. Blood donation stimulates the cells to be active and produce more.
c. They have opportunity to be aware of their health status considering the screening that they would pass through before being allowed to donate blood.
d. The donated blood would be screened (for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis etc) to be sure that it is safe to be given to another person and the outcome would be communicated to the donor, this further gives a sense of satisfaction as it is not all donated blood that can be used for transfusion. So a blood donor whose blood can be used should count his or her self a healthy person.
e. Donating blood can also protect you from the effect of polycythaemia, i.e. having excessive red blood cells in the body, the blood becomes thickened and flow is slowed down. Such persons can have dizziness, headaches, excessive sweating, itchy skin, blurred vision, fatigue, frequent nosebleed, bleeding gums etc. There is increase risk of other health issues such as blood clots, enlarge spleen, stroke, heart disease etc.
f. Blood donors have access to check their pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, haemoglobin level etc.
g. There would be follow up interaction with blood donors to ascertain their health conditions after donating blood.
This is an urgent call on the public to actively participate in blood donation and see it as a call to serve; people should be encouraged to donate blood regularly at least 3 times in a year. People who are regular donors should not be discouraged but rather they should think about the lives they are saving.
From experience, been opportune to know some persons I have donated blood to and they are also aware that I donated to them; there is this sense of excitement whenever we meet ourselves. So donating blood to save lives is a very good gesture.
People must also realize that the red blood cells would last for only 120days in their system and using it to save life would be a better way instead of just allowing it to undergo destructive cycle.
In as much as we call for more persons to donate blood, we are also encouraging people to live a healthy life style as well as getting early medical interventions to prevent emergencies. Accident prevention is very important and paying attention to our environment to prevent infection and infestation would also help.
Considering the activities of those that go for blood drive, the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) taking the lead in Nigeria amongst other Actors in the field, there is the need for the Government to step up their support in that regards while philanthropist, corporate bodies, individuals, group and institutions should see it as their corporate responsibility and obligations to support this gesture. There is no doubt that during blood drive, there are a lot logistic support that is required ranging from”
- Well equip vehicles that can reach any terrain.
- Blood collection items and consumables to avoid contaminations.
- Blood screening, storage and transportation equipments
- Tents, couch etc that would make donor comfortable during the exercise
- Training and retraining of personnel
- Well equipped and responsive database system for research and references
- Equipment and devices to keep in touch with blood donor
- Emergency Response, Safety and Security system should be in place
- Branded souvenirs to encourage donors.
The issues that would warrant people to need blood transfusion in our environment are very prevalent and the effort to encourage voluntary non remunerated blood donation should be sustained. All hands should be on deck to see that religious, social, economic and cultural barriers to voluntary non-remunerated blood donation are adequately addressed.
Emergencies do not give notice; the blood you would donate today can save your own tomorrow. Many of our people have died due to no access to blood and this can be prevented if we take a stand to make blood ALWAYS AVAILABLE AND ACCESSIBLE through voluntary and regular blood donation.
Many people are in the hospital right now in need of blood, without which they would die!
Let us help to save lives now that we can, Donate Blood and Be a Hero.
Dr. Bright Oniovokukor