“Dr Islam of The World Health Organisation said “This year the blood donor will be brought forward as a token of appreciation for saving lives.” He stated that over 70 countries worldwide have implemented regulations for blood donations to be voluntary. “90 000 lives can be saved by voluntary donating blood,” he said.
The campaign will also highlight stories from people whose lives have been saved through blood transfusions, as a way to motivate regular blood donors to continue donating blood. Currently only about 0,8% Namibians regularly donate blood, according to NamBTS blood donation statistics.
The Economist had the opportunity to speak to a blood donor and a blood recipient who also happen to be a mother and daughter.
Lorraine Gaweses is a regular blood donor. She said “I did not know that my mother would one day benefit from a blood donor like myself as she was operated on three times and lost a lot of blood. It was at this moment that she received a blood transfusion”.
Mara Bahm, mother to Gaweses, was a recipient of a recent blood transfusion during an operation to remove a cancer. She said “It was the first time I had a blood transfusion,coincidentally I passed by one of the NamBTS blood donor clinics last year and impulsively decided to donate blood that day, not knowing that it would be to my benefit during the beginning of the year”.
Last year NamBTS collected 29,000 units of blood from 3135 blood donations received from voluntary unpaid donors. The service’s well-organised donor recruitment system has proven to be safer, more effective and more efficient than hospital based family or replacement donations.
Meanwhile in the spirit of continuing to commemorating World Blood Donor Day NamBTS will also be running a campaign known as Bring a Friend Along for the duration of winter, which aims to grow the number of donors by following the example of a friend or relative.
It is estimated that in order to meet the demand for blood about 5000 units (2500 per month) must be donated during the next two months. The Blood Transfusion Service encouraged all people older than 16 to donate blood. Blood donor clinics will be running for the next two months.