A consultant hematologist/acting executive secretary, Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service, Dr. Bodunrin Osikomaiya, has decried the dearth of blood in the country’s blood banks.
Dr. Osikomaiya spoke during a blood donation ceremony organised by the Rotary Club of Lagos, Palm Grove Estate, in partnership with Rotary District 9110, Securisk Insurance Brokers Limited and Indian communities at Palmgrove Estate in Ilupeju, Lagos. Many Nigerians now pay lip service to the humanitarian act of donating blood voluntarily, she lamented.
“While a lot of Nigerians pay lip service to the humanitarian submission of donating blood in spite of the World Health Organisation (WHO) directive that at least one percent of the population of every country would always need blood, hence the necessity for voluntary and regular blood donors. Few clubs of Rotary International, District 9110, comprising Lagos and Ogun states in conjunction with Indian communities in Lagos have decided to partner with Lagos State government and rid the blood bank in the state of the dearth of the essential human need,” she said.
According to Dr. Osikomaiya, more than 90 per cent of blood being donated in Lagos now is by husband donors or relatives of patients, which of course is in sharp contrast to voluntary and constant donors regarded to be the safest. She berated the existing system of husbands or relative of patients’ donation of blood, which she said is tantamount to coercion because without the pressing need of blood for their relatives, they too would probably not have submitted themselves to the exercise.
“This is like they are being forced to donate because their people need blood and this is not what we want. They are simply donating for personal reasons. What we want is voluntary and regular donation, which is the safest blood we need because such donors will not lie since it would have become their habit. Since they will often come, there will be regular pool of blood storage in case of emergency.
“Going by the disclosure of WHO that one percent of the total population would always be in need of blood, we would daily need 230 units of blood in Lagos State alone, going by the current population of about 23 million people in the state. This is where the partnership of Rotary International and Lagos State government is highly commendable as they have come to the rescue of a lot of people that need blood,” she said.
The hematologist, however, pleaded with Nigerians to emulate members of Rotary International and Indian community to submit themselves voluntarily to this humanitarian practice. Dr. Osikomaiya premised child mortality and maternal mortality on availability of blood in blood bank, adding that a lot of pregnant women had passed away because of lack of blood.
Speaking on what informed the decision to organise the programme, the Assistant Governor, Rotary International (District 9110) who doubled as the chairman, District Blood donation, Rotarian Ramesh Biswal, said he felt elated for fulfilling a promise he made. “Looking at the need of blood in the blood bank, I passionately made a pledge to get about 2,500 pints of blood through the clubs for the year, and at the last blood donation camp, which was attended by Lagos State government representatives, more than 2,000 pints had been donated while the counting was still on,” he said.