Blood donation is our civic duty
CLINICAL SCENARIO 1: A 36-year-old pregnant woman was brought into the emergency room because she slumped in the supermarket. Luckily, a good Samaritan was able to get her to the nearest hospital on time. On examination, the woman was pregnant with twins and due to her markedly elevated blood pressure, the doctors had to do an emergency C-section on her to deliver her babies. During childbirth, the lady lost a lot of blood and needed emergency blood transfusion. Unfortunately, her match wasn’t found quickly enough. She died from severe Post-Partum Haemorrhage.
CLINICAL SCENARIO 2: A young boy was brought to the hospital because of a severe head injury he sustained while playing in school. While the doctors were examining the little boy, he went into haemorrhagic shock. Urgent blood transfusion was needed to save his life. Unfortunately, the hospital has no blood storage and have to start searching for blood which is not readily available in different blood banks in the city. This lack of blood storage led to the premature death of this young boy.
Scenarios like these abound in our hospitals. The World Health Organization has recommended a minimum of 1% of a country’s population to participate in blood donations. However, In Nigeria, we are not able to even meet this minimum requirement.
Let’s take a look at what exactly blood does for the body. Blood is very important to human life. In fact, without blood, we would not be able to exist. Blood is responsible for many bodily functions, including delivering oxygen and nutrients to different cells in the body. Blood is also responsible for transporting away metabolic waste from the cells. Blood helps to defend our bodies from infections and foreign bodies. Blood helps to regulate body temperature and regulate the acidity levels of the body. Blood is essential for a healthy sex life and procreation because it is responsible for sexual stimulation from male erection to the engorgement of the female clitoris. Essentially, we can’t live without blood and our bodies cannot function without blood.
Seeing just how essential blood is to life, different health organizations in developed countries usually organize different events aimed at encouraging individuals to donate blood, and such events are hugely successful with these blood donation programs as the citizens are well informed and educated on the importance of blood donations.
When a person experiences blood shortage, whether from an injury or due to a complication in pregnancy such as in the scenario above, the only effective medical treatment would be a blood transfusion. Blood transfusions can be required in many different scenarios: anaemic children, trauma or motor accident victims, Sickle Cell carriers, cancer patients etc. And blood transfusions would only be possible if there are sufficient blood donors willing to donate blood to help save lives. Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed.
It seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, not quite. Different people from different cultures seem to have different beliefs about giving and receiving blood, and many are generally sceptical when it comes to the concept of blood donation; that needs to change.
‘If I donate blood, I may lose too much blood and die’; ‘What if I donate blood and the person that gets my blood is a witch, then the person’s spirit would be disturbing me.’ ‘You know madness runs in some people’s ‘blood’ and I don’t want to transfer that madness.” As absurd as these statements may seem, these are some of the responses I have personally encountered when talking to people about blood donation. Such statements are largely due to ignorance and a lack of awareness and proper education about blood donation.
FACTS ABOUT BLOOD DONATION: Blood donation is a simple and safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded so there is no chance of contacting any infection or disease. In addition, when transferring or receiving blood, there is no chance of transfer of any familial traits or characters. In order to donate blood, you must be at least 18 years old. The blood donor is given a health exam: temperature check, blood pressure, pulse and haemoglobin level check, to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood. The actual blood donation typically takes about 15 minutes so it is not a time-consuming process. Males are expected to donate blood once in three months while females may donate once in four months.
In Nigeria, we generally don’t have a ‘blood donating’ habit and we must change that. Blood donation is a community responsibility and we must all make a conscious effort to donate blood once every few months. Blood is needed every single day in the hospitals. One out of seven people in the hospital need blood. Imagine, you or a loved one were sick in the hospital and needed blood transfusion from a blood donor. What If there was no available blood due to a lack of donors? Blood cannot be manufactured, hence the only way to have blood available for transfusion is by getting blood donors such as you and I. When you donate blood, your blood may be used to save lives and improve the health of others. There are no adverse effects associated with blood donation. Instead, one may feel good afterwards because when you do good, you feel good! Remember, blood is the most precious gift you can give to another person. Ask about how you can donate blood today.
Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment
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