Saturday, February 04, 2012

4th donation at ODCH...

Yesterday marked my fourth blood donation at the Ola During Children's Hospital's blood bank. My colleague, Suzanne, and I headed to the blood bank at 2pm ready to donate. However, it was busy and we were asked to come back. That's a good sign I think, meaning they had people waiting to donate. We went back at 3 and within minutes we were on the exam couches with large bore needles stuck into our veins. By the end of the afternoon, 450 mls of my blood was stored in the fridge awaiting screening. Hopefully by today, if a pregnant woman or child are in urgent need of A positive blood, my blood will be given to them free of charge to save their life.

Since coming to the hospital in June 2010 I try to donate blood every 4 months, which is as often as they'll let me. Interestingly enough, before working at ODCH I never donated blood, ever. I'm not sure why I didn't. I suppose I probably never could at home since I was in and out of Africa so much. And when I worked in Aberdeen, the thought didn't really cross my mind.

I think that working at ODCH has shown me the importance of donating blood. I have seen too many children die because they could not get a blood transfusion quickly enough. In many cases it was malaria that caused the anemia leading to respiratory distress. Watching children suffer is heartbreaking, especially when you know that something can be done. In some cases, the children come into the hospital too late to be saved, but for many, a timely blood transfusion can be life saving.

Unfortunately the blood banking system does not work very well here. People are reluctant to donate due to cultural beliefs and fears. Some people believe that blood has mystical powers while others say that the devils told them they cannot donate. Many people are afraid of diseases and possibly finding out that they have HIV or hepatitis. This means that the blood bank is poorly stocked and so relatives are asked to donate. Sometimes they agree and other times they don't. Hopefully with more education/sensitization, people will start seeing the importance of donating blood - not only for their own child (although that would be a great start) but for others in need as well.

4 months from now I'll be ready to donate again. Until then, if anyone is interested in donating blood at the Children's Hospital, let me know. I'll take you to the blood bank, hang out with you while you're donating and treat you to a cold coca cola once you're done.


Jeff and Cheryl said...

Looking forward to donating when we come out in June with The Raining Season again. I used to donate here at home -- but I now go to Africa once a year, and they want a year between a malaria-exposure trip and any blood donation. SO am very excited that we can contribute in that way.

Anonymous said...

As long as you make sure you use clean needles ... proud of you. liefs mama

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~