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Donate blood, M’membe urges Zambians

Dr FRED M’membe has urged Zambians capable of donating blood to do so.

Donating blood at Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital to mark this year’s World Blood Donor Day celebrated around the world on 14 June, Dr M’membe said blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life.

“This event serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and also to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure that all individuals have access to affordable and timely supplies of safe and quality-assured blood and blood products, as an integral part of universal health coverage and a key component of effective health systems,” Dr M’membe told journalists.

He said along with helping save lives, there were a number of reasons why donating blood was important.

“A decision to donate your blood can save three lives, or even several if your blood is separated into its components — red cells, platelets and plasma — which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions,” Dr M’membe said. “Your family or friends may need your blood someday.”

Dr M’membe said safe blood saves lives and improves health.

“Blood transfusion is needed for women with complications of pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and haemorrhage before, during or after childbirth; children with severe anaemia often resulting from malaria or malnutrition;

people involved in accidents; and many complex medical and surgical procedures and cancer patients,” he explained. “It is also needed for regular transfusions for people with conditions such as thalassaemia and sickle cell disease and is used to make products such as clotting factors for people with haemophilia.”

Dr M’membe said there was a constant need for regular blood supply because blood can be stored for only a limited time before use.

“Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed,” he said. “Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life.”

Dr M’membe noted that blood could not be manufactured.

“Despite medical and technological advances, blood cannot be made, so donations are the only way we can give blood to those who need it,” said Dr M’membe.

And Zambia National Blood Transfusion Service executive director Dr Gabriel Muyinda has urged prominent people to demonstrate that giving blood does save lives. Dr Muyinda said his organisation was happy that an enlightened person like Dr M’membe decided to give blood to allay fears associated with giving blood.

“I am urging prominent people in our communities to come and demonstrate that giving blood does save lives but the actual act when you put it on Camera, on TV, it then demonstrates that it’s safe to give blood,” he said. “He [Dr M’membe] has gone through it and this is a very enlightened person, this is a person that can inform the population that giving blood is very safe because that is one of the fears people have, getting blood from me, how much of it.”

Dr Muyinda said a single blood donation could save lives.

“The most important part of this is that who are we saving with that blood donation. With that single donation he has given, we can separate that blood into red cells, we treat anaemia in children and women. We will separate it into those small cells that help stop the bleeding,” explained Dr Muyinda. “We can separate it into clear part of the blood which is plasma to treat patients that have bleeding disorders, particularly those women who have bled a lot meaning they have lost all their clotting factors. So from one unit you are serving three categories of patients, the anaemic patients, you are saving the bleeding patients, and group of patients that have clotting factor deficiencies.”

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