Recently, the government made a call for blood donors, especially those with type O blood group, saying that this type is much needed in medical facilities in the country. The call was made through the National Centre for Blood Transfusion (NCBT) under Rwanda Biomedical Centre. But what do you need to donate blood? In an interview, Dr Christopher Gashayije, a medical officer at NCBT said that there are many requirements that must be met before donating but above all, they must know that blood donation is a voluntary undertaking and the donor must not expect anything in return. “We call this voluntarily none remunerated blood donation,” he said. The requirements A first-time donor must be aged between 18 and 60 years, you can’t donate for the first time when you are over 60. However, according to Gashayija, a regular donor can go up to 63 years. You have to be weighing at least 50 kilogrammes and above. You have to be in good health by the time of donation and you must have no form of chronic disease like heart or liver complications. A prospective donor must not have any blood transfusion-transmitted disease like HIV, Hepatitis, or any other sexually transmitted infection. Pregnant women, mothers who are breastfeeding babies less than a year, and women who are going through their menstruation periods cannot donate blood. People having sexual intercourse with multiple partners can’t donate blood. People who have extracted a tooth, have had tattoos recently and someone who has had unprotected sexual activities with someone else who is not their partner is requested to wait for at least six months before donating. According to Gashayija, once a blood donor meets all the requirements on the checklist, they are given a questionnaire to fill. “Our donors are explained about these requirements, and on the questionnaire, there is where they can sign accepting that their blood will be given to any other patient in need and that their blood may be used for research purposes,” he noted. Where can I donate from? According to Dr Thomas Muyombo, the head of division, NCBT, they have regional centres in each province anyone can go to when they wish to donate. “We have a centre in Kigali opposite Serena Hotel, in the South it is in Huye next to CHUB, in West it is in Karongi next to Kibuye Hospital, in the North it is in Musanze next to Ruhengeri Hospital and in the East we have it in Rwamagana next to Rwamagana Hospital,” Muyombo says. Apart from the regional centres, the NCBT operates 447 mobile sites spread across the country.