Bamenda Regional Hospital Boss champions blood donation campaign at the hospital
Donating blood is saving Live. This is the fulfillment most voluntary blood donors have when they are going for donations. Like them, the Director of the Regional Hospital Bamenda Dr. Denis Nsame feels elated when another life is saved because he donated blood. To this effect, Dr. Nsame led a campaign for voluntary blood donation at the regional hospital on Thursday January 30, 2020. In an interview, he further expatiates on his decision to take on such a course I quote; “The reason I decided to organize this blood donation campaign within the hospital is because of the importance of blood and the desire for blood also in other satellite health facilities is really very acute. The need is 5000 unit annually but we end up receiving between 3000-3500 units which means that many people go needing blood without having them. There is need for sensitize the population in the region and beyond to understand the need for blood transfusion reasons why, I decided to head this blood donation campaign within the hospital. Yes within the hospital because we are calling on the health staff to join this few others who have already been regular donors. We have often turned to the community but it is important that we start with the staffs themselves who are witnesses to the challenges we face every day. We have dialysis patients, complications in the theatre/surgical department; we have complications too in the obstetric unit and of course you know those needing blood due to all the road traffic accidents; equally cases of gunshots particularly at these trying times in our region. We equally have patients whom by their natural being need blood such as sickle cell patients and not forgetting endemic diseases like malaria. When you see malaria killing children, the number one cause of death is anemia because the plasmodium destroys the red blood cells and soon you find the child very feeble or the child develops severe anemia and that becomes an emergency. What we have discovered is that donors are commercial donors an act we want to discourage. Science has not discovered any means which blood can be fabricated so if anybody needs blood, it should be donated by another person and blood should not be sold when you want to save a life because blood cannot be bought. Blood donors are doing a benevolent activity and we don’t want to make it commerce as per the regulations of blood transfusion all over the world. So that was what made us to do this blood donation Campaign within the hospital because we are a family of close to 500.”
BRH website caught up with the Chief of Service for the Blood Bank at the Regional Hospital Bamenda, Mr. Ako Fidelis Atabon, who first talks on who is eligible to donate blood. Mr Atabon explains that the age factor has a role to play. Once a person is between the ages of 18 and 60, he/she can donate blood; blood is not collected from children. There is equally the fulfillment of the medical criteria; vital signs are taken (blood pressure, weight and hemoglobin level). The hemoglobin level determines the level of blood that a person has in his/her system. Females need to have a greater than or equal to 12grams per deciliter while men are supposed to have greater or equal to 13 grams per deciliter. After going through that, the blood sample is collected to run some tests like HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and Syphilis. These four tests are done in all the Blood Banks in the world and the Regional Hospital Bamenda Blood Bank is not an exception, Mr. Atabon reiterated. Once these markers are identified in a donor’s system, blood cannot be collected from them to avoid transmitting to the next person. It’s is equally an advantage to the Blood Donors because once a donor is tested positive of any of the three infections, he/she is linked to the treatment centers, where consultations are free. As for HIV, it has been subsidized worldwide and testing and treatment are free. For Hepatitis B and C, after the consultation, the patient does his/her follow up. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, smokers, females who are on their menstrual period, are not eligible to donate blood. Those who equally recently travelled to Ebola-infested zones, cannot donate because such areas are high risk zones for the Ebola Virus. A person, who has recently suffered from a crisis or has undergone a surgical operation or has recently suffered from a fever, cannot equally be a blood donor. According to the Chief of Service, the personnel of the Blood Bank of the Bamenda Regional Hospital have undergone a series of trainings through the mentorship of Save Blood For Africa Foundation where it operates in international Standards.
Many have and are wondering what is done after a person must have donated blood, to replenish the blood. To this Mr Atabon says the basic abnormality that can result from donating blood is depletion of the iron store in the blood system. So, each blood donor receives a card of Iron Sulphate and Phosphoric acid. The donor takes the pills once a day just to replenish his/her iron stores, eats well, drinks much water, takes a lot of fruits, reduces alcohol intake and should live a healthy life. Equally the hospital management provides snacks for donors.
The Bamenda Regional Hospital Blood bank has in recent time organized voluntary Blood Donation Campaigns aside the World Blood Donor Day, Mr. Atabon explains that: “The BRH is a reference hospital for the region and the need for blood is really high. Let’s take for example that the hospital has 400 beds, we assume that each bed will consume 7units of blood per year. This means that the blood bank needs 2800 units of blood a year; we have already done 1500 transfusions since the beginning of this year. So we need more than 3000 units of blood to be collected just to serve this hospital not to talk of hospitals from outside who come to give us requests for blood. The Northwest Region on its own needs at least 5000 units of blood to be collected per year because the World Health Organization estimates that 1% of the total population may need blood annually. So the hospital cannot survive without the strategy of organizing blood donation campaigns since there are many departments within and out of the hospital that the Blood Bank assists to reduce mortality. It organizes such campaigns in churches, as well as fixed posts at the hospital premises to collect blood from volunteers to stock in the Blood Bank so as to save lives.
Tongues have wagged and the population remains adamant to blood donation because they hold that they donate this blood for free but the hospital demands payment for it to be given to needy patients. Mr Atabong explains that blood has never, is not and will never, be sold at the Regional Hospital Bamenda. To him, the hospital is losing more because the Blood Bank is one of those departments in the hospital that does not generate income. Blood donors need to know that costly reagents are used in the analysis of the blood to ascertain its safety before it can be used. An estimated 31000 FRS is used to get a safe unit of blood, Mr Atabon reveals but the hospital minimizes all that so that patients can get blood when it is needed.
Considering the commitment of some regular donors, the hospital administration has in a service note outlined incentives to these regular blood donors which include;
Free Medical Consultation should they get ill.
50% discount of laboratory tests.
Results of each screening tests at each donation.
Institutional blood donor card to track donations.
Free meal ticket at the hospital canteen after each donation in the hospital or refreshment during mobile donation campaigns.
Replacement donors shall be entitled to the above incentives only after subscribing as voluntary donors.
Leading the Campaign was a worthwhile decision taken by Director Nsame as many more health personnel joined in the voluntary donation exercise which was greatly appreciated by the Director and the unit head of the blood bank of the hospital.