Give Blood and Keep the World Beating
Give Blood and Keep the World Beating
By Learnmore Edwin Zvada
Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Black African or American; these are some of the many racial appellations that we are fractioned into based on the colour of our skin, geographical location and our ancestry. At face value, we are different and some have taken that as justification to propagate hurt and malignity in the name of ‘racism’.
Indeed, many societal disparities seek to segregate us but we are a common people seeking the same things. And blood runs in each of us and it has that one colour; red. If cut and the integrity of our skin is compromised, we bleed and that’s the common denominator. It is the same blood that carries nutrients, oxygen, white blood cells, electrolytes and other requirements to and from respective organ systems of the body.
Blood doesn’t just act as the body’s ‘FedEx’ but serves a myriad of other functions which are indispensable for the normal functioning of the body. One of the key components of the blood are platelets and other clotting factors which ensure that blood coagulates at the site of injury, thus preventing more of its loss. And there is only so much blood that a person can afford to lose before things start to go south. To put this in perspective; an average adult human being has about 5 litres of blood(Laura, 2016). If they lose 15 percent of that, they may experience what’s called haemorrhagic shock. Haemorrhagic shock is a condition characterized by low tissue perfusion, which cuts short the supply of oxygen and nutrients to levels which can’t sustain life. Haemorrhagic shock has stages; that is, stage I to stage IV, with stage 4 indicating a loss of about 40% of the total volume of blood in the body system(Hooper and Armstrong, 2018). Beyond stage IV, a person is highly likely to die if they don’t receive blood fast enough.
Blood transfusion is not only required in cases of trauma but in many other scenarios where an individual would have lost a lot of blood. For instance, people suffering from blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia and beta thalassemia(Cappellini et al., 2008) require a blood transfusion to replenish healthy red blood cells. Women who develop pregnancy related complications often require blood or blood components without which there will be reduced chance of survival. Children require blood for congenital conditions, surgery, anaemia and various other morbidities. The WHO(2020) reports that the most transfused age group is 5 years and under in low-income countries, most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Regardless, there remains a high paediatric mortality rate in Sub-Saharan and according to Van Malderen et al(2019), there were 76 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017 in this region.
Suffice to say, men with all his intellect hasn’t been able to manufacture artificial blood, though research in that area is at an advanced stage. This means that for the time being, we are going to be turning to blood donors for this ‘vital fluid’. Most of the world’s transfusion requirements is met by voluntary non-remunerated blood donors. The WHO is pushing for 100% voluntary, unpaid blood donations because this ascertains the availability of safe, adequate and sustainable blood supplies(WHO, 2010).
The Covid19 pandemic has created a vacuum in the global blood supply and this can partly be attributed to the fact that national healthcare systems have generally been struggling. In most cases, there simply hasn’t been enough resources to process, store and screen blood for infections. (Cheney, 2020) points out that another reason why there has been a low supply of blood and blood products globally is that people are concerned about the potential dangers of donating blood during a pandemic. Therefore, it is imperative that corrective information regarding the concerns surrounding blood donation be addressed.
We need enough safe blood to meet global requirements, because shy of that, lives will be lost. Each year, the world commemorates World Blood Donor Day on the 14th of June as a way of raising public awareness and consciousness to the need for safe blood. The availability of safe blood and blood products remains a critical public health requirement, as such we all need to regularly volunteer to donate blood to keep the world ‘beating’.
- Cappellini, M.-D. et al. (2008) ‘Blood Transfusion Therapy in β-Thalassaemia Major’, in Guidelines for the Clinical Management of Thalassaemia. 2nd edn. Thalassaemia International Federation. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK173967/ (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
- Cheney, C. (2020) Tech groups, nonprofits accelerate plans to tackle global blood shortage , Devex. Available at: https://www.devex.com/news/tech-groups-nonprofits-accelerate-plans-to-tackle-global-blood-shortage-97453 (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
- Hooper, N. and Armstrong, T. J. (2018) ‘Shock, Hemorrhagic’, StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29262047 (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
- Laura, G. (2016) How much blood is in the human body? , Live Science. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/32213-how-much-blood-is-in-the-human-body.html (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
- Van Malderen, C. et al. (2019) ‘Socioeconomic factors contributing to under-five mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: A decomposition analysis’, BMC Public Health, 19(1), pp. 1–19. doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-7111-8.
- WHO (2010) ‘Towards 100%Voluntary Blood Donation: A Global Framework for Action’, WHO.
- WHO (2020) Blood safety and availability, WHO. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/blood-safety-and-availability (Accessed: 27 May 2021).