Unpaid Blood Donors Hailed As Lifesavers

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Blood donor.
Blood donor.

Blood donors who donate to save lives have been hailed as “life savers”, true heroes of humanity and the reason many admitted to hospitals are still alive and hopeful.

A haematologist, Dr. Abdul Mustapha, made this declaration while speaking to Science Nigeria during World Blood Donor Day, yesterday, (June 14, 2022) in Abuja.

Mustapha urged all relevant agencies to create wider public awareness for the need for regular, unpaid blood donation in the country. 

He identified regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors as “the foundation of a safe blood supply” because they are associated with low levels of infection that can be transmitted by transfusions, including HIV and hepatitis.

The expert said that it was time for the government to highlight the key role that voluntary blood donation plays in strengthening social cohesion and encouraging community participation toward a healthier Nigeria.

“Focus should be on blood services as a community service and the importance of community participation for sufficient, safe and sustainable blood supply.

“Persuade and encourage state ministries of health to show their appreciation to regular voluntary unpaid donors and commit to self-sufficiency in safe blood and blood products based on 100 per cent voluntary, unpaid donations. 

“They should also promote and highlight the importance of sharing life by donating blood,” he explained. 

According to Mustapha, a blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantity is key to an effective health system.

“One blood donation can save up to three lives. While people usually donate because it feels good to help others, altruism and volunteering have been linked to positive health outcomes, including a lower risk of depression and greater longevity.

Mustapha described the theme of the 2022 World Blood Donor Day “Donating blood is an act of solidarity: Join the effort and save lives” as apt, as more lives are saved daily through voluntary blood donation,” he said.

He, however, urged all relevant agencies not to wait for every World Blood Donor Day to educate Nigerians on the importance of blood donation. “They need to educate Nigerians that blood donation is a noble act. We are united by blood and, one day, any one of us can need blood. You only need to be healthy and have the desire to save other people’s lives without expecting anything in return.”

Recall that the annual event is aimed at thanking voluntary blood donors, acknowledge them, encourage blood donation and get new donors. This year’s slogan “Share Life, Give Blood”, refers to the care and cohesion that giving blood and caring for others involves.

Meanwhile, the WHO said staff shortage and limited funding are affecting effective blood donation drives in Nigeria and other countries in the region.

It said that, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, voluntary unpaid blood donations dropped significantly. 

“Countries across the African region have worked hard to improve blood donation frequency, and the situation is showing signs of stabilising. 

“Blood transfusion services in many countries reached out to blood donors through public awareness campaigns, transporting donors from and to their homes, using digital platforms and establishing call centres.”

Racheal Abujah
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