Why We Should All Be Blood Donors
Three things are certain in Nigeria: politicians failing on their promises, NEPA disappointing you, and someone pleading for blood donors on social media.
Blood is a big deal in Nigeria and according to CC Hub: “Nigeria has some of the lowest blood donation rates in the world, with just 10% of the population donating freely. That makes it crucial that what blood there is arrives safely and timeously where it’s needed.”
What this means is that whatever blood that is available is scarcer than Mr. President when we need him to urgently address the nation.
Why should you care?
If you’re ever in an emergency [car crash, labour] the chances that you’ll need more than a pint of blood is high. However, according to the National Blood Transfusion Service, Nigeria uses 1.5 million pints of blood every year for its population of over 150 million people. This amounts to less than a pint of blood per person. You don’t need to be good at maths to know that this is a huge problem.
Why is blood scarce?
There is no single cause of blood scarcity because it’s a multifaceted problem: There is a lack of proper facilities for the storage of blood. There is also the perishable nature of blood leading to a constant need to update the blood bank. Additionally, there’s the problem of the low turnout of voluntary blood donors in Nigeria. In the words of the former minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, “statistics show that only 10 percent of Nigerians donate blood freely while 60 percent do it for money. The remaining 30 percent of blood donors only give to relatives in need.”
Why is there a low turn-out of voluntary donors?
Fear and ignorance are two of the major reasons. On one hand, people are scared that they’ll contract infections if they donate blood while on the other hand, we have people worried that blood donation can lead to loss of libido, death, or an irreversible reduction of the blood in their body. These are all false because not only is “new blood” regularly produced by the body, but blood donation is also an extremely safe process.
So, how can you help?
Firstly, by talking about blood donation wherever you go because conversations are the easiest way to spur change. Something as simple as helping people realize the myths about the blood donation process or even the need for blood donation goes a very long way.
The next step is to find a donation centre around you and voluntarily donate blood. According to W.H.O; “Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components — red cells, platelets, and plasma — which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.”
That’s not all. There are benefits to donating blood:
Blood donation is an activity that’s bi-directional because it benefits both the recipient and the donor. For donors, it reduces the risk of heart attack and liver ailments because blood donation helps in regulating the iron level in the body.
It also helps in some form of weight loss because up to 650 calories are burnt during a donation exercise. There’s also the fact that donating blood and the feeling of altruism that comes with it greatly improves your psychological well being.
Lastly, blood donation provides an opportunity for free medical checkups because of the routine tests [HIV, Hepatitis, Blood pressure] that occur before each donation exercise. For the recipient, your singular act of kindness helps to greatly improve and extend their quality of life.
So, what next?
We need to keep talking about blood donation, demystify the myths surrounding the safety of the donation process, and also lead by example by volunteering to donate blood. And if you’re having a hard time deciding on whether to donate or not, you should remember that not all heroes wear capes. Some donate blood.