Celebration Of World Blood Donor Day
Jul 22, 2008 - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) predicted the significance of an event of this nature when he said “we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”. I am therefore delighted to join you in celebrating and marking the World Blood Donor Day, and to be at this occasion for a programme that is vital and essential to life. A day such as this is set aside worldwide to create wider awareness on the importance of blood, to recognize and thank those who voluntarily donate their blood to save life, thereby encouraging voluntary blood donation by the citizens of any nation.
Of all tissues and fluids in the human system, blood remains the most basic which drives the system and sustains the human body. It has also been described as a ‘Magic Portion’ that gives life to another person. The maxim that “Blood is life; and he who gives Blood, gives life” then is true of this occasion.
However, inspite of numerous breakthroughs, tremendous discoveries and inventions recorded by Medical Science and research down through the age, no Scientist, either living or dead has been able to arrive at a chemical composition through which the “Magical Portion” called Blood, could be produced. The challenges posed by this reality is therefore obvious; and that has compelled man through years of research and scientific development to device an effective means of blood transfusion and storage to save life whenever the need arises.
I am aware that the annual celebration of the event started in the Year 2005, in Lagos State, a year after the establishment of the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee. The objective of that Committee was among others:
• to regulate blood transfusion across the State;
• to encourage regular voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation; and
• enhance adequate supply and screening of blood for transfusion transmissible infections.
As it is the practice across the world, healthy blood banks are created, maintained and sustained with the support and encouragement of willing blood donors, who freely donate towards saving life. However, it is unfortunate that in our society, the level of awareness is still very low. Perhaps, due to fears and misconception generally held in some quarters with regard to the safety, and health condition of a blood donor thereafter. From available information, I understand that many blood banks in Lagos still depend on blood donations by the families or friends of patients who require blood from blood donors for pay. From available statistics, only seven out of a hundred (100) donors in Lagos State donate blood without coercion. This is an extremely low figure in a city with a population of eighteen million (18m) and the blood usage of about one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) units in a year.
Since its establishment in 2004 the Blood Transfusion Service has not been able to recruit up to a thousand (1000) voluntary blood donors in any year although, it has recorded considerable increase compare to previous years before 2004. These are disturbing trends which I hope with increased awareness; our people will be better informed on the need to regularly donate blood as the simplest way to save lives.
Blood is important to human existence. Some of us here, may have at one point in time visited the hospital. We would have seen and appreciated the importance of blood to a dying patient, accident victims or innocent citizen suffering from bullet wounds who require immediate surgery and urgent blood transfusion to survive. Without a stable base of healthy blood bank through which the life of these categories of people could be sustained, your guess could as well be good as mine.
I want to use this medium to appeal to you all and urge all Lagosians to donate blood with a view to saving lives without consideration for personal or financial gains. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), blood from voluntary donors is safer than blood from patients, friends and family members.
It is safe to donate blood, and I am proud to say that my wife and I are voluntary donors. While acknowledging the immense contributions of regular blood donors for their sacrifice and selfless services, I urge as many Lagosians who are willing to join and support our efforts at saving lives, to come onboard. Blood is essential to life; it is freely given by God Almighty, and should be freely given to save lives. You may not need it today, but someone close to you might need it tomorrow. You could be saving the life of a neighbour, distant friend, child or someone, who may not be known to you, but whose life depends on the fluid you have donated.
However, to ensure the safety of blood being transfused in the State, the State government through the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee has therefore put in place the necessary machinery to register, accredit and regulate blood transfusion service facilities throughout the State. To this end, blood certified for transfusion must bear the Lagos State Government logo. In other words, it is a serious offence to transfuse blood or use transfused blood that does not carry the Lagos State government Logo.
Furthermore, private blood banks are no longer allowed to run independently. It is mandatory for them to be registered and accredited by the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee which is the body given the mandate to control and ensure safety of blood transfusion in the State. With these and other measures in place, to regulate the activities of private blood bank we believe that they will not continue to constitute danger to innocent members of the general public.
Once more, I urge you all to donate blood regularly to support the State blood donor programmes in building a stable base of voluntary donors whose humanitarian gesture and commitment to safe lives is worthy of emulation and commendation.
Donate Blood today, and give somebody a gift of life.
Thank you all.
Eko O Ni Baje O!
Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN),