The importance of donating blood is well-known. The National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) estimates that Zimbabwe needs about 70 000 units of blood annually. Blood donations benefit a large number of people, including those involved in accidents and mothers giving birth. A pint of donated blood can help save as many as three lives. Giving blood is a great way for companies and their employees to give back to society.
BY Donald Tafadzwa Chidoori
Alliance Health, one of Zimbabwe’s premier health insurers will lead a blood donation drive at its offices in Alexandra Park, Harare on August 25, 2017 in support of the NBSZ call to join hands and give blood.
According to national statistics, for every 7 people that enter a hospital 1 person will need blood. Close to 40 percent of all blood transfusions in Zimbabwe are given to mothers following complications in pregnancy and/or childbirth – NBSZ. Complex surgical procedures like car accidents, may require up to 45 liters of blood per patient, which is equivalent to total blood in 8-10 adults.
While sixty (60) percent of the Zimbabwean population will need blood at some point in their lives less than five (5) percent donate blood annually. Of the 5%, the majority 70% are youths. To be able to sustain the blood supply NBSZ needs both adults and youths to donate blood.
“The initiative was as a result of the realisation that blood transfusions are critical for saving lives in the case of blood loss due to surgical operations, in maternity cases, road traffic accident victims,” said Alliance Health – Marketing Officer Esther Masiye.
“We understand and appreciate the society in which we operate and try to find opportunities by which we can give back to the community,” she added.
Through a series of communication themed, ‘Life is in the blood! Donate blood today and be a hero!’ Alliance Health is encouraging its members to invite friends and family to come and donate blood so at to give someone a second chance of life.
Alliance Health has been hosting the NBSZ for blood donations every school holiday since April 2014. When they started the initiative in 2014 Alliance only collected 15 pints of blood. This did not discourage them and they are now collecting +/-50 units each holiday.
“According to NBSZ this is a good number, we believe there is still potential for more at future drives,” Masiye said.
1 donation has the potential to save as many as 3 lives. If 50 people donate, they could provide enough blood to take care of victims of a major car accident.
Blood donations during the event come from both Alliance Health members and non members. Since it was established the event has had so much support from members of the public. However, a lot of potential donors are turned away due to age, weight, or the fact that they were taking medication at the time of donation.
The minimum requirements to be a blood donor are as follows:
- Between the ages of 16-65 years old
- Weigh more than 50kg’s
- Not currently taking any medication
- Be in good health and lead a safe, low risk lifestyle
“Should a person meet the above criteria, they can come to Alliance Health office 7 Fleetwood Road Alexandra Park, Harare on Friday the 25th of August and take part.
“The donation itself takes 10 – 15 minutes and a total of less than 30 minutes. . The volume is less than half a litre (450ml). We offer refreshments and a light snack to all donors,” she said.
Alliance Health stated that people should feel free to come and donate their blood. It also guaranteed that all blood donation procedures are safe and precautions would be taken to ensure that no harm would befall the donors.
“A health questionnaire on life style and a simple check to exclude anaemia is carried out before each donation, to ensure no harm to the donor or recipient,” Masiye said.
This event forms part of Alliance Health’s corporate social responsibility programme, that also includes the provision of free medical aid /health insurance benefits to Kidzcan employees and other select groups or organisations.