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Mother of quadruplets recounts: How voluntary blood donation saved my life

By CHIOMA OBINNA

Genevieve Uba would not be alive today, but for a group of persons who donated blood voluntarily to enable her undergo surgery, following a complication she suffered after giving birth to a set of quadruplets.

She would have died as a result of unavailability of blood.

“It was a terrible experience and a narrow escape for me,” she told Good Health Weekly in an interview last week.

“It all began four months into my fourth pregnancy when I observed that my abdomen was getting bigger than expected.  I was afraid. I decided to go to the hospital to register but before that, I went for a scan which showed I was pregnant with quadruplets.  So I rushed to Gbagada General Hospital to register.

“After examination, the doctor said I should not be allowed to attend my antenatal clinic there and I was transferred to Island Maternity where I delivered my babies through Caesarean Section.

Operating theatre

“But soon after the surgery, I lost consciousness. My body began swelling up because I was bleeding internally. I was taken back to the operating theatre for another surgery.

After that, it was observed that I was still bleeding. I was operated upon again. The bleeding did not stop. At that point, I was sent back to the theatre for the third time after which the bleeding stopped. Within that period I was given 21 pints of blood and three pints of plasma.

“My husband was able to donate just one pint of blood. If other people had not donated blood freely, I would not  be alive today. I would be  history. I encourage Nigerians to keep on donating blood voluntarily. Their blood saved my life.   I thank all voluntary blood donors. God bless you all.”

Genevieve urged Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dame Abimbola Fashola to remember her promise of assistance during her visit to the hospital.

“We have written to the office of Dame Fashola as advised but we have not got a reply. My husband is jobless and with the birth of these babies, our survival is uncertain.

“It is by the grace of God that we are able to feed these children.  The most painful aspect is that I have not been producing breast milk. I was told it is as a result of the injections and drugs I took during my ordeal.

WIth no breast milk, we just feed them NAN which costs about N16, 000 per carton which lasts an average of six or seven days.”

Blood is one commodity that can never be found in the super market. Human blood has no substitute. It must come from a living human being.  But  voluntary donation of blood is one challenge Nigeria and the world at large has continued to face.

Statistics show that in Nigeria, 36,200 units of blood were collected voluntarily in 2010  This was less than 10 percent of the country’s total requirement.  Nigeria had a voluntary blood donation population of 5 per cent in 2006 as against the World Health Organisation, WHO, recommendation of 100 percent.  Certainly, several thousands of  lives in Nigeria could be saved if safe blood was readily available.

Just last Friday, 14th June, 2013, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the “World Blood Donor Day” aimed at raising awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products and also appreciate voluntary non-remunerated blood donors.

Theme for this year is: “Give the Gift of Life: Donate Blood.”   Despite the importance of voluntary donation of blood towards saving human life, myths, cultural and traditional beliefs have made it impossible for Nigeria to achieve 100 percent voluntary blood donation as recommended by the World Health organization, WHO.

Each year, an estimated 287,000 women die worldwide from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. More than half of these maternal deaths (56 percent) occur in sub-Saharan Africa and haemorrhage (severe bleeding) is the leading cause.

Although several efforts have been made to reduce maternal deaths from haemorrhage through skilled birth attendance and ensuring the availability of Emergency Obstetric Care, blood transfusions remain key components of such intervention.  It is estimated that 26 percent of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are directly related to a lack of blood.

So many women die from haemorrhage because once bleeding starts, death can occur within two hours, compared to 10 hours for eclampsia and 72 hours for obstructed labour.


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