Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Blood courses through the vasculature of mammals bringing vital nutrients to every cell and ferrying waste substances away to be excreted. Blood flowing is synonymous with life, a lack of or stagnation of blood similarly signifying death or at least its proximity. Blood is central to all that the body does. A simple biopsy of it with appropriate testing can reveal the onset of disease, its severity, rate of progression and whether or not disease will respond to treatment. When lost it must be swiftly replaced with a suitable type.

In the course of treatment of several diseases many lose precious blood. In the natural process of pregnancies, occasions arise where massive blood loss occurs. The people who experience these blood losses are usually in no position to solicit for blood donations to remedy their dire situation. Having managed a few people in these situations the ease with which blood can be accessed is literally a life saver.

A central system exists where individuals go into clinics to donate blood that is then pooled centrally and dispatched to areas where they are needed. When a person is in need of blood all that's needed is a lab request and blood specifically typed to the individual arrives in no time. Well organized health systems recognize the importance of this community effort and expend a lot of resources encouraging citizens to donate. They also invest in processes and systems that make blood safe and available in a timely manner to whoever needs it.

Websites of several national blood transfusion services show a blood stock level of how much blood is available nationally. Below is that of the South African blood service:

The Irish blood service:

Blood Group
Days Blood Supply Remaining
Blood supply 5 days
Blood supply 5 days
Blood supply 5 days
Blood supply 6 days
Blood supply 8 days
Blood supply 4 days
Blood supply 9 days
Blood supply 9 days
Blood Supply on Friday 7th of December 2012

http://www.americasblood.org/ also has a similar info-graphic for blood supplies in the USA. These supplies in the various countries depend on generous donors who consistently give of themselves with no reward.

Sadly this well organized system doesn't exist in many other countries around the world - A single statistic to highlight the extent and effect of this dearth: 25% of maternal deaths are attributed to a lack of blood transfusion - In these places one has to anticipate when they will need blood and solicit it accordingly beforehand. I'm guessing everyone in these settings must have a crystal ball that tells them when blood will be needed and where to find suitable donors. Realistically however there are no crystal balls. The systems that work so well to prevent deaths and save lives in SA, Ireland and USA need to be emulated in these settings and made to work. Individuals also need to be proactive and seek to be blood donors, aid the community because no one knows when s/he will need blood. 

It's not everyday we get an opportunity to save lives, make today that day:

Nigeria blood transfusion service - http://www.nbts.gov.ng/
Kenyan transfusion service -  http://www.nbtskenya.org/

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