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“Thank you for saving my life”

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That was the titled for the 2015 World Blood Donor Day (14th June) “Thank you for saving my life”.  It focused  on thanking blood donors who save lives every day through their blood donations and strongly encourages more people all over the world to donate blood voluntarily and regularly with the slogan “Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters.”  It was amazing to see a serving executive governor of a state, commissioner of health as well as head of hematology department in teaching hospitals voluntarily donating blood to save lives. This action has a catalytic effect in encouraging others to do same.
A senior colleague wrote to me that “If you donate blood in Sweden the country texts you when your blood is used” and she asked me if that would be possible in Nigeria. It is indeed possible but its requires diligent record keeping and someone dedicated to monitor utilization of blood donated as well as having the record of the persons that donated. This singular action can make a difference between donating only once and for one to continue donating. Let’s try it in Nigeria.

Every year, on 14 June, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day. The event serves to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need. Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care and during man-made and natural disasters.

In making a strong point for blood donation, I remember the Melbourne Declaration on 100% Voluntary Non‐Remunerated Donation of   Blood and Blood Components.  The Melbourne Declaration on ‘100% Voluntary Non‐remunerated Donation of Blood and Blood Components’ is founded on the policies articulated in World Health Assembly resolution WHA28.72 Utilization and Supply of Human Blood and Blood Products which urges Member States to promote the development of national blood services based on voluntary non‐ remunerated blood donation and is supported by resolution WHA58.13 Blood Safety.

“We, more than 65 experts in transfusion medicine, policy makers, government and non‐ government representatives from 40 countries across WHO regions met on 9–11 June 2009 in Melbourne, Australia, as participants in the WHO Global Consultation on 100% Voluntary Non‐ Remunerated Blood Donation (VNRBD) of Blood and Blood Components, organized by the World Health Organization in collaboration with the Australian Department of Health and Ageing, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, the Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and endorse the following Melbourne Declaration”

The declaration is as follows;

  1. “Recognize that safe blood and blood products and their transfusion is a critical aspect of health care and public health that saves millions of lives and improves the health and quality of life of many patients;
  2. Recognize the importance of protecting donors’ welfare and appreciating their generous donations of the gift of life; Acknowledge that the realization of the health related Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality (Goal 4), to improve maternal health (Goal 5) and to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (Goal 6) is dependent on universal access to safe blood transfusion;
  3. Recognize that evidence supports that regular voluntary, non‐remunerated blood donors are the cornerstone of a safe and sustainable national supply of blood and blood products sufficient to meet the transfusion requirements of the patient population; Acknowledge the need for a sustainable blood supply through increasing the number of voluntary non‐remunerated blood donors who donate regularly; Recognize that the establishment of well‐organized and managed national blood services based on 100% voluntary non‐remunerated blood donations with effective quality systems will increase the safety of blood supply by reducing the transmission of TTIs;
  4. Recognize that all the governments can achieve safe sufficient and sustainable national blood supplies by demonstrating leadership and commitment to voluntary Non‐ remunerated blood donation; Believe that family replacement and paid donation can compromise the establishment of sustainable blood collection from voluntary non‐remunerated blood donors;
  5. Recognize that appropriate use of all blood and blood products and proper component manufacture and optimizing the utilization of recovered plasma is important to increase supply and for donor motivation.”

I will conclude by saying that many people are having this erroneous belief that women aren’t supposed to donate blood. That’s not true as women can actually donate blood and it has being documented in many instances. According to WHO data about the gender profile of blood donors, it has shown that globally 30% of blood donations are given by women, although this ranges widely. In 20 of the 111 reporting countries, less than 10% donations are given by female donors. The age profile of blood donors shows that more young people donate blood in low- and middle-income countries, proportionally than in high-income countries.

Blood transfusion saves lives and improves health and many patients requiring transfusion, however, do not have timely access to safe blood and blood products.

“Thank you for saving my life” by donating blood.

1st published in Daily Trust Newspaper of  23rd June 2015 by Dr Aminu Magashi Publisher Health Reporters (healthweekly@yahoo.com)  



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