Why it’s everyone’s responsibility to donate blood

Immaculee Gusenga was one of the beneficiaries of a blood donation drive that was organised by King Faisal Hospital in Kigali last week. After undergoing a successful operation, the 31-year-old lost a lot of blood but her strength was restored by an emergency blood transfusion.
A staff member of King Faisal Hospital in Kigali donating blood recently. / Courtesy photo
A staff member of King Faisal Hospital in Kigali donating blood recently. / Courtesy photo

Immaculee Gusenga was one of the beneficiaries of a blood donation drive that was organised by King Faisal Hospital in Kigali last week. After undergoing a successful operation, the 31-year-old lost a lot of blood but her strength was restored by an emergency blood transfusion.

Many lives can be saved if only more people donated blood. Donating blood saves lives and the solid reality is that blood cannot be manufactured but can only be taken from humans hence the need for donation.

 

Cyprian Nshimiyimana, a nurse at King Faisal Hospital,was one of the volunteers who donated blood. He says his urge to donate blood roots from a deep longing of wanting to save lives.

 

He says people should understand that there is nothing to lose in donating blood other than saving lives of fellow human beings.

 

Nshimiyimana says aside from having the psychological fulfillment of saving a life, when one donates blood, they actually get to know their health status since a number of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis are tested before one donates blood.

Lynnet Kyokunda, the director of pathology services at King Faisal Hospital, says although a number of people are getting to understand the essence of donating blood more are still needed on board.

She says with more campaigns and sensitisation more people certainly will embrace this valuable cause.

“When people are knowledgeable about the need for blood, they are more willing to donate blood. Previously, people used to have different perceptions about blood donation but now the perception is changing and we are seeing more people coming out to donate blood,” Kyokunda says.

“The fact is, when we need blood for hospitals, we can only get it from people because blood can’t be manufactured. This is the reason we have sensitisation just to mobilise people to donate blood and save a life,” she adds.

Kyokunda says the ever increasing modernisation comes with shortcomings that entail unfortunate circumstances that lead to illnesses, hence the need for more blood.

“Of late, the presence of motorcycles as a means of transport has increased the number of accidents which leads to blood loss, which again leads to the need for collecting more blood.”

She points out that the fact that most people may lack the knowledge of where donation drives are held can be a limiting factor in some way.

Kyokunda, however, notes that they are doing their best and have been able to access the community to ensure that more get to take part in donating blood.

“We really need to educate the whole society more about the need for donating blood as well telling people there is no harm in it.”

Dr Swaibu Gatare, the division manager of the National Centre for Blood Transfusion at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, says blood donation comes along with numerous benefits with regards to the donor’s health and the beneficiary too.

Currently, the number of people who donate blood is 44,396 males and only 16,910 females.

He points out that even though a good number of people take part in blood donation, more people certainly need to join the campaign.

Gatare applauds the initiative that was done by King Faisal Hospital staff to collect blood.

“They are silent heroes who saved lives of many people they even don’t know through blood donation. We also thank the management of the hospital and everyone who put in their effort to make that event a success. If all other institutions did the same, we would have enough blood in stock for patients,” he says.

The campaign organised by King Faisal Hospital on July 7, dubbed “Give blood, Give now, Give often”, was in collaboration with National Centre for Blood Transfusion. Other institutions that joined the hospital in this noble cause included World Vision, World Relief and Ministry of Agriculture.

A total of 76 blood units were donated during the campaign. Blood units targeted for this year are 91,000, which definitely calls for more donors, according to Gatare.

What it takes to conduct a blood donation drive

Gatare points out that Rwanda implements a quality management system based on Africa Society for Blood Transfusion standards. Due to these international requirements, a blood donation drive calls for a rigorous process of activities, including site preparation and meeting with blood donor representatives and local authorities.

He explains that the process goes through pre-donation talks, blood donor selection, phlebotomy (a process of drawing blood from a blood donor) and after donating blood a donor is provided with some refreshments to prevent hypoglycemia which would lead to adverse blood donor reactions such as dizziness.

Gatare says before distributing blood to hospitals countrywide, the centre screens all donated blood units for transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs), HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis.

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