Blood donation is a gift of life. It is a safe, simple and rewarding process. Safe blood donors are the cornerstone of a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products. The Mission of the National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) is to save lives through the provision of safe blood and blood products that meet customer expectations.
Unlike the rains that come from the heavens, blood cannot be manufactured, it is only found in the human body. In order for us to instil full confidence in the society that we serve, adequate supply of blood can only be met if respect is given to those who provide the blood (blood donors). Blood Centres like the NBSZ have the duty to care for their donors who have rights to know that this care will be given. This week we will focus on informing the public about safe blood donation and donor benefits.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that blood donation by 1 percent of the population is generally the minimum needed to meet a nation’s most basic requirements for blood; the requirements are higher in countries with a more advanced health care system.
In Zimbabwe 51,583 donors take their time off their busy schedules to donate blood. Of this number, 90 percent are aged between 16-29 years and the remaining 10% are aged between 30 -60 years. Small incentives to mark milestone achievements, refreshments after every donation and at Pledge 25 Club organised events reimbursements of direct travel costs are issued but not as payment.
The greatest payment of any blood donor is the desire to help others to survive after loss of blood. There is nothing better than personal satisfaction, self esteem and pride in knowing that you have saved a life as a reward. It is for this reason that as NBSZ, we strive to ensure that regular voluntary donors form the backbone of our well organised blood donor programme.
Voluntary blood donors also serve as effective peer educators, recruiters and health promoters. Studies have shown that “the influence of active blood donors is one of the most effective strategies for donor recruitment”.
It is with this in mind that NBSZ has a very active Peer Educators programme in all the education institutions. The programme has witnessed an increase in the number of units collected from these institutions. The Pledge 25 Club organised blood drives have had a positive impact on the yields during school holidays.
The safest blood donors are voluntary, non remunerated blood donors from low risk populations. These donors who give blood voluntarily and for altruistic reasons have the lowest prevalence of HIV, hepatitis and other blood borne infections. Sufficient and safe blood can only be assured by regular donations from healthy voluntary unpaid donors who are between 16years and 65 years and weigh 50kg or more. All blood donors undergo donor selection procedure which includes Pre-donation counseling, medical history and health checks before donating blood.
This is an important step in blood donation procedure as it safeguards both the donor and the recipient.
Pre-donation counseling plays a major role in blood safety as it helps in establishing donors who are at risk and therefore should not donate blood. Donors who may be in the ‘window period’ are encouraged to self defer. All clients who are deferred during donor selection are referred where appropriate.
Medical history is important in that it provides information needed to decide whether to accept or to defer donor, and whether the donor should be temporarily or permanently deferred. Medical history is collected using a standard questionnaire.
Prior to donating blood, a donor will be asked about their medical history confidentially to make sure it is safe or not safe for them to donate blood for transfusion to others. The basic checks include weight, Blood Pressure and haemoglobin. Haemoglobin for females should be 12.5gl and males 13.5gl or above.
A donor can safely donate 450mls of blood and feel well after blood donation. Donors are encouraged to have a juice before donation to prevent adverse reactions. Donors will only be allowed to donate blood if they are feeling well on the day of donation.
Happy Easter Holidays from the entire NBSZ team.
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