Making Donor Blood Safer, Available

Blood product for transfussion

Blood product for transfussion

Chukwudi Obi, 45, and his wife, Amara, 39, are living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Chukwudi got infected with the virus through blood transfusion. He was transfused with unsafe blood two years ago after losing so much blood during a fatal motor accident. Unfortunately, Chukwudi infected his wife with the virus before he got to know his status.

Aisha Musa, 23, died of excessive bleeding after childbirth because the hospital could not secure enough safe blood that matched her blood type. The hospital had run out of blood. The husband, Bala, 47, could not raise money to buy blood from paid donors.

Chukwudi, Amara and Aisha represent thousands of Nigerians that need to be transfused with safe blood to survive a medical condition. More Nigerians are still going through the same ordeal.

However, Olumide Adedayo, 55, has a different story. He was saved by blood donation 25 years ago. “My life was saved through blood donation, so I encourage regular blood donors to continue donation and I also motivate other healthy people to join in doing so,” he told The Guardian.

In recent times, there have been local and international efforts to make blood donation safer, free and easily accessible.

Part of that effort is the celebration of the World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) every June 14 to thank blood donors who save lives every day through their blood donations and strongly encourage more people all over the world to donate blood voluntarily and regularly with the slogan “Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters.”

The theme of this year’s campaign is “Thank you for saving my life”.

The campaign championed by the Lagos State Ministry of Health (LSMoH), the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) aims to highlight stories from people whose lives have been saved through blood donation, as a way of motivating regular blood donors to continue giving blood and people in good health who have never given blood to begin doing so.

It was first celebrated in 2004 in Johannesburg, South Africa and was followed by its designation as an annual global event by the 58th World Health Assembly (WHA) of WHO member states in May 2005.

The date June 14 is the birthday of Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943), an Austrian biologist and physician – the founder of the ABO blood group system, which he discovered in 1901. With Alexander S. Weiner, he also identified the Rhesus factor in 1937. Physicians are therefore able to transfuse blood without endangering a patient’s life. These discoveries continue to save lives the world over.

This year, the host country for World Blood Donor Day global event is China. The global event takes place today, 14 June at the Shanghai Blood Centre, which is also the WHO Collaborating Centre for Blood Transfusion Services in China.

Transfusion has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child-care and during man-made and natural disasters, such as the recent earthquakes in Nepal.

It has been shown that severe bleeding during pregnancy, delivery or after childbirth is the single biggest cause of maternal death. Of the 289,000 women who died in childbirth in 2013 due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, 27 per cent were due to severe bleeding.

Several studies have shown that the need for blood and blood products is increasing every year and in many countries – particularly low and middle-income countries – demand exceeds supply, and blood services find it hard to make sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.

WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, said: “The best way to guarantee a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products for transfusion is to have a good supply of regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors.

“WHO encourages all Member States to obtain all their blood supplies from such donors.”

Meanwhile, Lagos State has been in the forefront of ensuring the safety of blood for transfusion with the enactment of the Law No 10 of June 2004, which established the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee. The Committee is empowered by this law to regulate and coordinate blood transfusion service in Lagos State under the supervision of Lagos State Ministry of Health.

The Guardian gathered that Lagos State is the few states in the country that have a law regulating transfusion service.

Chairman of the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee (LSBTC), Dr. Adetoun Agbe-Davies, has called on residents and individuals alike to support the drive at ensuring that 100 per cent of all blood for transfusion are from voluntary blood donors by donating and encouraging more people to donate blood voluntarily.

Agbe-Davies, on Thursday, at a media briefing in Lagos as part of activities to commemorate the World Blood Donor Day noted that recruitment of voluntary blood donors is major activity of the LSBTC, stressing that this is in realisation that safe blood starts with the voluntary donor.

The Chairman stressed the need to meet the year 2020 WHO set goal that 100 per cent of all blood for transfusion should be from voluntary blood donors will go a long way in addressing issues of touting for blood donation as well as the demand for family replacement of blood through family donation for mothers at ante natal booking.

She stated that Lagos State is the only State in the country that has a law regulating transfusion service stressing that the vision is to have a state where only safe blood is transfused in all appropriate health facilities while the mission is to provide safe blood through the recruitment of voluntary blood donors, the screening of every unit of blood for Transfusion Transmissible Infections and the efficient processing of blood for all who require it.

Agbe-Davies added that the committee is also charged with the functions of ensuring the development of quality control and assurance on all blood transfusion matters in the State and training of all involved in blood transfusion matters.

“A major source of voluntary donors is the Club 25 in our tertiary institutions. These are a group of young persons between the ages of 18 and 25 years who have pledged to donate at least 25 times before they attain the age of 25 years. The Lagos State Chapter was launched in 2009 by the former First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola”, the Chairman said.

She noted that voluntary donors are processed through the eligibility criteria before donation adding that they must be between the ages of 18 and 65 years and must be physically fit stressing also that voluntary donors are referred for treatment if required and given haematinics and vitamins.

“Refreshments and souvenirs are given routinely. They are remembered on their birthdays and reminded when due for the next donation. All these have impacted positively on the donors resulting in an increase in repeat voluntary donations,” she said.

Agbe-Davies stated that there are eight screening centres where blood from both private and public facilities are screened and certified with the State logo adding that these centres test every unit of blood for HIV I & II, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis as mandated by WHO using the recommended screening kits.

“There are 25 blood banks in our public facilities and 87 private registered blood banks regulated by the Committee. They are required to renew their registration annually. Blood Transport Boxes have been issued to the hospitals and blood banks to enforce regulations on the transportation of blood and blood products while copies of the handbook on Appropriate Clinical Use of Blood for Lagos State have also been circulated for proper guidance”, the Chairman said.

She stated that training workshop for medical laboratory scientists are organized yearly to keep them up to date with current trends adding that in May 2014, the training workshop was organized for the scientists in both public and private sectors.

The Chairman noted that intending voluntary blood donors can visit blood donation centres in designated State owned health facilities like the General Hospital Lagos, Lagos State College of Health Technology Yaba, Alimosho General Hospital Igando, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja, Gbagada General Hospital, Epe General Hospital, Ifako- Ijaiye General Hospital, Ajeromi General Hospital, Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, Randle General Hospital Surulere, Ikorodu General Hospital, and Ibeju –Lekki General Hospital.

She added that other blood donation centres are located inside the premises of Apapa General Hospital Apapa, Massey Street Children’s Hospital, Isolo General Hospital, Onikan General Hospital, Orile Agege General Hospital, Badagry General Hospital, Alimosho General Hospital, Mushin General Hospital, Somolu General Hospital, Agbowa General Hospital, Ijede Health Centre, Harvey Road Health Centre, Lagos State Accident and Emergency Centre, Gbaja and Amuwo-Odofin Maternal and Child Care Centres.

The Chairman stated that intending voluntary blood donors and the general public can also contact the headquarters of the Blood Transfusion Service inside the premises of the General Hospital Lagos or call 08172011755, 07019628700, 08115387437, 08069207914, 09098780089 for further information.

Agbe-Davies while restating the commitment of the LSBTC to ensuring the safety of blood for transfusion stated: “Celebrating World Blood Donor Day in Lagos State is a tradition the state is proud of because we are proud of our voluntary blood donors and their contribution to saving lives”.

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