Blood Donor Day: It is immoral to pay for human blood, haematologist says

Blood Donor Day: It is immoral to pay for human blood, haematologist says

Angela Onwuzoo<

A professor of Haematology and Transfusion Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Sulaimon Akanmu, has said that blood donation should be voluntary, warning that patronage of commercial donors was inimical to safe blood transfusion service.

According to him, it is immoral to pay for human blood.

Nigerians, the haematologist said, must know that paying for people’s blood is not the way to go.

Akanmu, who is also a Consultant Haematologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, spoke with our correspondent in commemoration of the 2022 World Blood Donor Day.

He said touting is frowned at in blood transfusion services anywhere in the world and it is not the way to go.

He said, “It is immoral to pay for human blood because it cannot be manufactured, neither is it a goat’s blood. 

“So, there should be no money attached to blood donation. People should volunteer.

“In transfusion service, the watchword is safety. All we want in blood transfusion service is safety. Voluntary blood donors are often gainfully employed and, therefore, do not ask for money before donating their blood.”

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The National Blood Service Commission says Nigeria has a blood need of approximately two million units based on a population of about 200 million.

“But just about half a million blood units are currently collected in Nigeria annually and only five percent are from voluntary blood donors. 

“Blood is life. Blood transfusions are critical for healthcare as they are instrumental to life-saving interventions in accidents, childbirth, various emergency situations resulting from insurgencies, wars, herds-farmer clashes, routine surgeries, sickle cell disease, cancer and various anaemic medical conditions”, the commission noted.

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated around the world on 14 June every year to raise awareness about the need for safe blood and blood products to save lives. 

The day is also an opportunity to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.

The 2022 World Blood Donor Day is themed: “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives.” 

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The theme aims to draw attention to the roles that voluntary blood donations play in saving lives and enhancing solidarity within communities.

Besides saving lives, Akanmu assured that blood donation has health benefits on the part of the donor.

He called on Nigerians to imbibe the culture of voluntary blood donation, adding that the donation of blood twice a year promotes good health.

According to him, the way out of the challenges facing blood donation in Nigeria is a knowledge campaign to the population to volunteer to donate blood and ignore myths around blood donation.

“People do not believe that they have sufficient blood for themselves. So, they are afraid to give out their blood. People should have the mindset that the donation of blood promotes their health.

“Voluntary blood donation should be twice a year. When it is done over 10 years, they are called volunteer return donors.

“This group of people have to themselves fantastic medical advantages in the sense that they do not suffer from iron-excess-related disorders,” he said.

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According to the World Health Organisation, blood transfusion saves lives and improves health, but many patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood.

“Providing safe and adequate blood should be an integral part of every country’s national health care policy and infrastructure,” WHO noted.

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