The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, says Lagos will need about 260,000 units of blood annually to meet the growing blood transfusion demand at its health facilities.
Abayomi made this known through a virtual meeting organised on Sunday by the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service (LSBTS) to commemorate the World Blood Donor Day.
World Blood Donor Day is celebrated annually on June 14 globally, to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood.
The theme for the Blood Donor Day 2020 is “Safe Blood Saves Lives”, with the slogan “Give Blood and Make The World A Healthier Place”.
Abayomi noted that the state was making efforts to meet and surpass its requirement through recruiting and retaining voluntary blood donors.
“To maintain an adequate blood supply, one to two per cent of the population needs to become regular blood donors.
“This is about 260,000 in a growing population of over 26 million in Lagos State.
“The regular supply of blood is essential as the life span of blood is very short. Each unit of blood donated remains viable for 35 days,” he said.
The commissioner said that the state was collaborating with the private sector, non-governmental organisations, religious bodies, and youth organisations to achieve its target requirements.
On the theme of the World Blood Donor Day, Abayomi said that encouraging and promoting voluntary blood donation in a safe and conducive environment was the goal of the state.
“This year’s theme has come in at a time the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the various phases of lockdown and travel restrictions have brought about some challenges to our blood donation drives.
“The need for blood transfusions and medications based on blood components has, however, continued in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The LSBTS voluntary blood donation centres were opened, all through, with an extension in our opening hours.
“Scientifically, there are no confirmed reports of Coronavirus being transmitted by blood transfusion anywhere in the world.
“Strict additional safety measures, including more handwashing sites, use of hand sanitisers, use of personal protective equipment, as well as maintaining social distancing are being practised at the blood collection sites for donors and staffs,” Abayomi said.
He added that making the world a better place was not only about blood collection from donors, but the collection of convalescent plasma from recovered patients of COVID-19.
According to him, the plasma collection is in preparation for an interventional study in the treatment of patients with severe Coronavirus.
Abayomi noted that there was no substitute for blood, adding that the lives of hundreds of patients, including pregnant women, children with severe anaemia, accident victims, patients with cancer and haemoglobinopathies were saved by blood transfusion.
He added that adequate and timely supply of safe blood was needed to continue helping those people who are in need of blood transfusion.
“We, therefore, cannot overemphasise the need to ensure the availability of blood in our blood banks where patients who require blood transfusion can be readily supplied.
“I would like to say a big thank you to all voluntary blood donors who have made it a duty to give the gift of lifeblood.
“I would also like to use this medium to encourage citizens who are healthy and fit and aged from 18 to 65 to please give blood.
“People in good health who have never given blood, particularly young people, should begin to do so,” Abayomi said.
Also, Dr Bodunrin Oshikomaiya, Executive Secretary, LSBTS, said the campaign to increase voluntary blood donation drive had been intensified and sustained to meet with the blood transfusion needs in Lagos State.
She noted that LSBTS was working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to improve access to blood transfusions and promote blood safety.
Oshikomaiya said that the work with WHO was centred on centrally coordinated blood transfusion service, collection of blood exclusively from voluntary donors from low-risk populations.
Others are testing of all blood for compatibility and transfusion-transmissible infections, and reduction of unnecessary transfusions.
She added that health workers involved in blood transfusion had been trained on documentation, quality assessment and on the rational use of blood and blood products to reduce unnecessary transfusions.