By SOLA OGUNDIPE
PATIENTS requiring blood transfusion services at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, Lagos have been warned to desist from patronising commercial blood donors. The warning came on the heels of the arrest of a suspected tout within the hospital premises while attempting to supply a blood donor to a desperate patient in need of blood.
LUTH’s Chief Medical Director, Professor Akin Oshibogun who gave the warning weekend, noted that it is an entrenched policy of the health institution not to sell blood to patients.
“LUTH does not encourage touts. The hospital actively discourages commercial blood donors for many reasons. Blood donated by touts is often of poor value and a high percentage of it is rife with diseases, rendering the blood unfit for human usage. Even if donated, such blood will not pass stringent screening process and will be discarded.
Because of these and many other undesirable reasons, relatives of patients are strongly warned against patronising commercial blood donors. Notices are also boldly pasted all over the Hospital, warning touts to keep off our premises.
“Sadly though, many relatives refuse to donate blood for their patients with the untrue excuse that they do not have enough blood to give away, a popular myth among many cultures in Nigeria.”
He said patients’ relatives are usually requested to donate blood for the treatment or surgery of their patients before treatment or elective surgery or after treatment in cases of emergencies.
Further, Oshibogun said the greatest requirement for urgent blood transfusion is from life-threatening torrential bleeding sometimes encountered during child delivery.
“This is followed by accidents where a lot of blood has been lost. Although a pregnancy lasts nine months during which it is expected a pregnant woman would have made arrangements to donate a pint of blood in case she would need it, our cultural and religious backgrounds imbue many women with an ‘it-is-not-my-portion’ mentality, militating against voluntary blood donation in this part of the world.
“Members of the public are encouraged to visit the blood-donation clinic of the hospital and donate blood to save lives. However, very few fulfill this civic duty. The overall effect of all this is the chronic shortage of blood required for saving lives. Sadly in Nigeria, wherever there is a high demand and chronic shortage of any commodity, touts step in and operate.
“It is a known medical fact that the average adult person suffers no adverse effect from donating a pint of blood which may save a life. Every donor is tested and must be certified fit before donation so the excuse of not having enough to donate is untenable. Till today in some Nigerian communities, patients are left to die rather than for the husbands to donate blood.
“Despite our stern warnings, patients sometimes patronise commercial blood donors, introducing such touts as their relatives so the touts can be allowed to donate blood in LUTH. Where our staff recognise the touts or when, as often, the tout’s blood does not meet the minimum requirements, they are turned back with a warning.
“Our staff cannot verify the authenticity of every relationships between patients and those they connive with before every donation is made. In fact, an ingenious method employed nowadays is for touts to dress corporately in order to avoid being accosted by security-men.
Commenting on the arrested blood tout, 26-year-old Mordecai Chidi Nwosu from Anambra State, Oshibogun said he (tout) confirmed the illegality of his business to which some Nigerians are drawn because of the prevailing poverty and rampant unemployment in the land.
“Another tout driven out of LUTH premises confessed that he now operates outside the hospital premises because of the security arrangement in place within the hospital. There is no known law against donating your blood for a fee, hence, it is difficult to successfully prosecute such habitual practice.
“It is our hope that the press will educate Nigerians on the advantages of voluntary blood donation and the inherent dangers of patronising commercial blood donors. LUTH shall continue to use its professional capabilities within the law to stave off the menace of touts in its daily operations,” he remarked