October 26, 2021


documenting the nigerian story…

Saving lives: What to know about blood donation

Hajara Isa, 40, has donated blood 32 times. She said contrary to what some people believe, nothing inhibits a woman from donating blood.

She said the only exceptions are if you have low blood count, are anaemic or ill, adding that these exceptions apply to both males and females.

“As a woman, you can give blood and save lives, as long as you stay healthy and eat healthy,” she said.

She encouraged women and girls to donate blood to help with the high rate of maternal mortality, especially women dying from loss of blood or post-partum haemorrhage in the country.

She said people should walk into any of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) centres to donate blood, noting that within 30 minutes or less they are done.

She said before blood donation, tests are carried out to confirm if the person has enough blood; the heart rate and weight are also checked.

She said giving blood has helped her watch her nutrition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Nathan Akpan, 39, has been donating blood since 2005 and has donated 67 times since then.

Akpan said he feels good giving blood regularly to save lives without receiving anything in return.

He called on youths to donate blood regularly to those in need.

He said blood donation has also afforded him the opportunity for regular screening of his haemoglobin level, and blood pressure among others.

He said people fear side-effects and even the syringe, noting that once people conditioned their minds to save the lives of others such fears will disappear.

Oye Oyetunde Akinloye has donated blood 77 times and his motivation is ensuring access to safe blood in the country.

He said the essence of voluntary blood donation is patriotism; saving the lives of people that are not related to you.

He said voluntary blood donation helps to ensure that the donor’s kidneys, liver and other organs are not overworked or stressed.

The transfusion of blood and blood products helps in saving lives.

It supports complex medical and surgical procedures, and plays essential, life-saving roles such as in maternal and child care and during emergency response to accidents and man-made or natural disasters.

Oye Oyetunde Akinloye 77 times blood donor
Oye Oyetunde Akinloye 77 times blood donor

Medical experts say voluntary blood donation also holds a lot of benefits for people who donate.

According to Dr Omale Joseph Amedu, National Coordinator of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), the rate of blood donation among Nigerians is very low.

He said less than 4 per cent of eligible adults donate blood in Nigeria.

Amedu said this is a result of lack of awareness, deep cultural myths and misconception on voluntary blood donation by the public.

He said blood donation means “when a person (donor) voluntarily allows blood or blood component to be drawn out from his/her body for the purpose of transfusion or manufacture of other products.

He said people should donate blood to make blood available for access and to ensure adequacy.

“It must be noted that it is the available blood that can be easily accessed. Blood cannot be manufactured, so it can only be available through donation by humans,” he said.

Dr Omale said 1% of the population is required to make adequate blood flow-risk lifestyle to donate once in three months for males, while a female is once in four months.

Medical experts advise that people shouldn’t wait for disasters or an emergency before donating blood. They say that is why hospitals rely on family replacement donors.

If people donate blood at all times, the NBTS would have adequate blood supply and no one would be asked to donate for his or her relations whenever there was the need for blood transfusion, the experts said.

Dr Omale said the benefits of blood donation include rejuvenated life, good health, and active new blood cells. “Above all, a happy and fulfilled mind saving someone’s life with your blood,” he said.

Nathan Akpan, 67 times blood donor
Nathan Akpan, 67 times blood donor

He advised that blood donation should be made a way of life by every healthy individual, adding that it is a civic responsibility to save lives.

Studies have also shown that people who voluntarily donate blood have the likelihood of living longer.

They also showed that majority of the people who are regular blood donors rarely suffer from anaemia of the aged.

Repeated blood donations also enhance the production of new blood cells, improve the overall cardiovascular health and can lower the risk of severe cardiovascular events such as stroke.

It also affords the donor the opportunity to undertake free health screening and a mini blood test before every donation at the NBTS centre.

Similarly, Idris Salihu, Country Director, Safe Blood for Africa Foundation, advised Nigerians to be their brother’s keeper by donating blood.

“For youths that want to do something great. This is what they need to do. We all need the blood.

“Everyone is vulnerable. It is not only children, pregnant women, accident victims or sick people, anyone can need blood at any time.

“Also, blood has no price. We cannot say we are going to remunerate blood because we don’t know how much it cost. It is God’s gift.

“If you have it, share it with others. The saddest moment of a doctor‘s life is when he can save a life but the only thing preventing him from saving that life is blood and blood is flowing in the veins of all Nigerians,” he said.