By Chioma Obinna
With COVID-19 affecting the availability of blood products in blood banks across the country, Sound Alliance Foundation, SAF, has urged Nigerians to cultivate the culture of voluntary blood donation as it does not only save lives but guarantees good cardiovascular health for donors.
Speaking in Lagos during a blood donation drive to mark its six years anniversary, Coordinator of the Foundation, Dr Samuel Okerinde who recounted the health benefits of the exercise said blood donation reduces iron levels in the blood which could as well prevent cancers.
Okerinde said: “Voluntary blood donation ensures good health for the donor. It helps to reduce weight and it also has good effects on cardiovascular health. Apart from donating blood, the donor is saving at least three lives. There is also the fulfillment that as an individual you are helping somebody to live well, save lives, most especially save many Nigerians living with cancer.
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“It is a fulfilling thing to donate blood. It is the best gift you can give to anyone and that is why we made it one of the activities of SAF. “
He called on the Federal government to create more awareness on the need for Nigerians to donate blood voluntarily. There is a need to advocate more and provide an enabling environment for youths, in particular, to donate blood. We are targeting at least 100 pints of blood which will be donated to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, free of charge.”
Speaking, the Chief Donor Officer/Head, Haematology Department, LUTH, Mrs Mercy Onofomi lamented that many Nigerians shy away from donating blood voluntarily out of ignorance despite the fact some are suffering from excess blood.
Onofomi said Nigerians should prioritise blood donation as a strategy to live healthily.
“When we grow to a certain stage in life if you are not a regular donor, the bone marrow we store in the bones in the body will turn to a grey marrow but if you are a regular donor it will remain the way it is. It will not change and you will not carry any excess luggage and you will not over-work your heart. When you donate, your heart will be in better condition.
She, however, lamented that despite the fact that voluntary blood donation was improving in Nigeria; the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected the progress.
According to her, in LUTH, before COVID-19, the hospital sees at least 24 voluntary donors every other month apart from the month of June which usually record as high as 64 donors due to World Blood donor Day.
“In the years past, hardly can you see 2,000 units of blood with a family replacement but recently, each year, we record up to 9,000 units annually apart from this year that we have COVID-19.”
She called on Nigerians to embrace voluntary blood donation to help save lives.