NamBTS needs your blood

Addressing myths

18 January 2021 | Health

Swakopmund • [email protected]

The Namibia Blood Transfusion Service (NamBTS) announced an extreme blood shortage at the end of 2020, and pleads with Namibians to donate blood.
This is the result of fewer donations made last year due to Covid-19 myths relating to blood donations as well as Covid-19 related restrictions preventing blood drives.
“All blood types are important to maintain an adequate supply for hospitals across the country. There is however a greater need for the O blood type because it is compatible with patients of other blood types and more than 50% of blood donated around the country should be O-type blood. It is also important to emphasise that this is the blood type that is transfused to patients in emergency cases,” says Titus Shivute, the supervisor of donor recruitment and public relations at NamBTS.
Despite fewer recorded trauma incidents such as road accidents and alcohol related injuries, there is still a huge need for blood.
“Mothers experiencing complications during pregnancy and birth, premature infants, burn victims, cancer patients, patients with chronic illnesses, surgery patients and others with renal, cardiac, liver and blood conditions all required blood products during December and January. Illnesses, accidents and medical complications do not have a peak season and therefore we at NamBTS count on all donors to donate to avoid a blood shortage,” Shivute emphasises.
Myths debunked
According to Shivute, myths surrounding blood donation are widespread.
“One we often hear is that ‘I don’t have enough blood’.” The truth is that an average adult has between 4 and 6 litres of blood depending on their weight. “NamBTS only takes about 450ml of blood and this amount is easily replenished by a healthy adult body.”
Shivute also refuted claims that NamBTS works for profits due to the fact that donors donate blood at no cost, but that patients who need blood are billed for it. “Whilst the donor’s gift to the patient is free, substantial costs are incurred to collect, test, process and deliver each unit, and these have to be recovered.”
He compared collecting blood to doing the same with water when it rains.
“You can collect water for free when it rains. However, if you want it to come out of a tap in your house during the dry months, you have to pay for it to be stored, purified and piped to you when you need it. Payment is for the service and infrastructure necessary, to deliver something that started off entirely free and safely to the right place at the right time!”
Shivute points out that costs relative to the recruitment of eligible donors such as advertising and education campaigns make up an estimated 7% of NamBTS’s budget.
Information and communication technology (ICT), vehicle fleet, staff and motivation and educational materials such as pamphlets at blood donation centres nationwide make up 33% of the costs incurred.
The blood bags used when collecting blood account for 9% of costs incurred and not all collected blood is suitable for use. Testing for antibodies and diseases transmissible by blood transfusion accounts for 28% of costs incurred.
In order to cover the abovementioned costs, NamBTS must charge for blood.
So, do the right thing and donate today!

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