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Donating blood to save the dying

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A person donating blood

Photo The Independent

The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s statement that at least one per cent of the population of every country would always need blood, apparently calls for constant stocking of this indispensable lifesaving product at various blood banks across Nigeria.

However, according to the Consultant Haematologist and Acting Executive Secretary, Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service (LSBTS), Dr. Bodunrin Osikomaiya, a large number of Nigerians today pay lip service to this humanitarian call of regular voluntary blood donation, which is not only worrisome but also portends a great danger to life of numerous Nigerians that would conditionally need blood.

According to World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution 28.72, adopted in 1975, the WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies through voluntary, unpaid donors, a culture that is yet to be imbibed by Nigerians.

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The WHA is the apex decision-making body of the WHO.Osikomaiya snarled at and debunked as non-statutory, the common practice whereby blood is only made available by husband donors when their wives are at the threshold of delivering babies or patients’ relatives who are forced to donate blood when their relatives are in desperate need of blood either for surgery or any other compelling conditions.

Lagos State has not been absolved of this endangered situation until few clubs in Rotary International, District 9110 comprising Lagos and Ogun States decided to take the bull by the horn, partnered with the State to relieve her of this unsavoury condition and with a high sense of commitment went into action to put an end to the preventable dearth of blood in the Lagos State’s blood bank.

During the previous Rotary year spanning July 2018 to June 2019, the Assistant Governor, Rotary International, District 9110 who was also the Chairman, District Blood donation. Rotarian Ramesh Biswal, unable to bear the consequence of want of blood in the State’s Blood bank, humbly met the Past District Governor, Rotarian Kola Sodipo and passionately made a pledge to save the unhealthy situation through liaison and networking with clubs in the district to ensure donation of not less than 2,000 pints to Lagos State Blood Bank through Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service within the Rotary year. Though not completely pessimistic, Sodipo wondered how Biswal would actualise his bold step, but Biswal was undaunted.

Despite the distraction caused by change of job within the year, Biswal, also a member of Rotary Club of Palmgrove Estate, inspired members of his club as well as members of Indian community and also put some Assistant Governors in the district on their toes towards the achievement of this goal and before the close of the Rotary year, about four clubs had donated 1,965 pints of blood. Biswal was not contented that the target was not yet met, though close.

Therefore, prior to drawing the curtain for the Rotary year, Biswal, inspired his club to organize a Blood Donation Camp in partnership with the District, Indian communities and Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service with the theme: “Be a donor, donate blood, donate life” which took place at the Club’s secretariat at Palmgrove and was witnessed by Osikomaiya and a consultant haematologist and Director of Pathology and Laboratory Services, Lagos State General Hospital, Dr. Babafemi Thomas; and Director, Lagos State Ambulance Services, Dr. Kola Korolo, who represented the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health.

At the end of the camp, according to the Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate’s Chairman, Blood donation, Rotarian, Mahesch Birla, 67 more pints were realized, bringing the total pints realized within the Rotary year to 2,032, thus exceeding the target of 2,000 pints.

Ramesh in his comment at the camp attributed the success of the donation to all Assistant Governors in the district who contributed money to organize the camps, as well as the clubs.“We are happy today that we are able to meet the target as envisaged and the credit should go to the Clubs for their co-operation, the donors from various strata including organisations as well as the members of Indian community.

“We are not looking for recognition, but encouraging and pleading with Nigerians to buy into the habit of donating blood to save lives.“We look forward to donation of more than what we are able to realize this Rotary year in the next Rotary period” he said.

Osikomaiya, who witnessed the response to the call for donation at the camp, commended Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate, Rotary Club of Lagos Island, Rotary Club of Ikoyi and Rotary Club of Agbara, Rotary International District 9110 and most especially, the Indian Community that made up of more than 70 per cent of the donors.

Osikomaiya further cast aspersions to what she described as more than 90 per cent existing practice of blood donation in Lagos State by husband donors or patient’s relative donors, which according to her is in sharp contrast to voluntary and constant donors regarded to be the safest, a practice she said tantamount to coercion because without the pressing need of blood for their relatives, they too would probably not have submitted themselves for the exercise.

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“This is like they are being forced to donate because their people need blood and this is not what we want. They are simply donating for personal reasons. What we want is voluntary and regular donation that is the safest blood we need because such donors will not lie since it would have become their habit. Donation of this magnitude will ascertain regular pool of blood storage in case of emergency.

“Going by the disclosure of WHO that one percent of the total population would always be in need of blood, we would daily need 230 units of blood in Lagos State alone, going by the current population of about 23 million people in the State.This is where the partnership of Rotary International and Lagos State government is highly commendable as they have come to the rescue of people that need blood for different reasons in the State according to WHO” she said.

She pleaded with people of Lagos State and the entire Nigerians to emulate members of Rotary International and Indian community by submitting themselves voluntarily to this humanitarian course because the belief is that if members of Rotary International as well as Indian community could so commit themselves to this course, there should be no excuse for Nigerians not to follow their footsteps.

Osikomaiya noted that factor which compels Nigerians to yield to the demand include the fact that, according to WHO many people would always need blood which include children, malaria and accident victims, pregnant women, cancer patients, those undergoing surgery, burns victims, victims of shock, people with bleeding disorders including hemophilia and the need to provide antibody treatment for people with disorders of immune system among others.Osikomaiya hinged child mortality and maternal mortality on non-availability of blood in blood bank, adding that a lot of pregnant women had passed on for lack of blood.

Thomas ruled out the essence of implication on the part of voluntary donors. He allayed such fears and disclosed that the exercise rather helps to recover new blood and new cells in the body, adding that another unquantifiable benefit is that a unit of blood donated can save three lives.
He advised donors to simply take normal balance diet, a lot of water as they donate blood and their body would always automatically be replenished with whatever was dissipated in the course of donating blood.

He remarked that donors can submit themselves for the exercise four times in a year and enjoy the benefits like reduction of overload of 200 grammes of iron from each donation which would make their systems to function better.

According to the WHO, iron is a mineral that the body needs to produce red blood cells. However, too much iron can be harmful to a person’s health. It can deposit into different organs of the body, such as the liver and heart, and affect the way those organs function.

Each person who donates blood completes a simple physical examination and simple blood test before giving blood and as a result, it is possible that a person could identify unknown health concerns as a part of the blood donation process with such health issues including blood pressure concerns or low blood counts.

It is said that at times, feeling of dizziness, feeling faint, lightheadedness and nausea being felt by donors definitely vanish within three days of giving blood.The above is without prejudice to the fact that every donor of blood will be first tested to ascertain suitability of the body for the exercise and where donation will be harmful to the body which the test would detect, the voluntary donor would be excused while he would be medically advised on whatever might be wrong with his body with a view to receiving medical attention in time to put his body right. If he had not come for blood donation, the problem might not have been detected which might aggravate and lead to complications.

Seventy-seven donors were at the blood camp under reference at Palmgrove Estate, and according to the report by Birla, ten people were dropped for one reason or the other which would have helped them to detect any problem in their bodies to be tackled immediately which is one of the advantages of surrendering oneself for the exercise. These should allay fears of possible danger of donating blood because there would always be prior test to certify every donor as qualified for donation.

Thomas disabused the minds of those with erroneous belief that blood donated could be used for ritual purpose, declaring such claim as unfounded and baseless reason by saboteurs to jettison the humanitarian duty.He also made the clarion call for blood donation while reiterating the Lagos State’s readiness to work with not only Rotary International and Indian community but also to partner with companies, religious organisations and any group that can influence their members to be voluntary donors.

PDG Kola Sodipo at the event appreciated the management of blood transfusion agency for their co-operation and support, adding that without their partnership and co-operation, Rotary International could not have been able to achieve the feat.He commended Rotary Club, Palmgrove Estate as well as Rotary Club, Lagos Island for their contributions towards the achievement of the set goal by Biswal.

He noted that by that achievement which he described as ‘laudable’, he knew that the former target the Rotary International had been setting which were below collection of 2,000 pints were low. He advised the incoming administration not to relent but key into the standard set by Biswal and his group.

“It is necessary everybody co-operate and participate in the voluntary donation because no one knows whose family would be in need of blood.”
He also encouraged all other clubs in the district to tow the line of Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate, Rotary Club of Lagos Island and other two clubs, describing blood donation as special project that must be publicized.“We have about 100 clubs scattered in Lagos and Ogun States. With more enlightenment, people will appreciate the need to donate and begin to participate.

The President, Rotary Club of Palmgrove Estate, Rotarian Jayashankar Nalode, whose club alone donated more than 505 pints of blood said the club was ready to change the history of dearth of blood in Lagos State by continuing to create awareness of the importance of blood donation and intimating Nigerians that there is no implication in the exercise.He was optimistic that the club in the next Rotary year would be able to donate between 3,000 and 5,000 pints of blood.

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Past President, Rotary Club of Lagos Island, Rotarian Raj Kumar Gulati hinged the achievement on co-operation of the clubs. He said his club was born by Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate and therefore bound to work together with the club and the unity had been yielding positive results.

“We involved several companies like Chelarams among others, made up of Indians and Nigerians and encouraged them to donate blood. We told them that there was nothing harmful in the exercise and that they even stand to benefit a lot as they participate.“We issue them certificate of participation to encourage them that if they or any of their relations should require the use of blood, the certificate will enhance their obtaining free blood,” he said.

He was optimistic that the there was nothing stopping the clubs from realizing as much as 3,000 pints in the next Rotary year.One of the donors, Adeboye Joseph Taiwo said he was invited by Biswal and described blood donation as a kind of humanitarian exercise that many Nigerians depend upon for survival.

“There are pregnant women, accident victims and others that need blood. I know that my donation today will go along way to saving three lives.“My advice to Nigerians is that whenever there is a call for blood donation, they should not feel reluctant but make themselves available for donation to save lives,” he said.

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Bodunrin OsikomaiyaWHO
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