By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
The Director-General of the Nigeria Blood Services Commission, Dr Omale Joseph, has alleged that many hospitals in the country are giving out expired blood to their patients.
Joseph made the disclosure on the heels of the establishment of the new Commission, aided by a bill sponsored by APC member representing Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State in the House of Representatives, Mr Abbas Tajudeen, and recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Briefing newsmen on Thursday at the National Assembly, he revealed that safe blood has a lifespan of 35 days after which it expires and becomes unsafe to use.
The DG harped on the need to inject sanity into the process of blood handling, utilisation and administration in Nigeria, as many officials in hospitals were cutting corners in the blood administration.
Joseph alleged that many hospitals are commercializing blood donated to them by individuals to keep in the blood bank for use when necessary, adding that the new Commission was out to stop these inhuman practices.
“A unit of blood taken out expires between 30 and 35 days. If you don’t transfuse this blood within that period and it gets to 35 days, it has to be thrown away. But people still keep them in their fridge and transfuse them.
“These are some of the things we are going to regulate. We are also working to a point that blood will be everywhere in Nigeria. And one of the things we are doing is to initiate what we call the one million safe blood initiatives.
“Based on the act we have now, we are trying to ensure, working on our people to make sure that at each point in time, Nigeria has a minimum of safe blood place.
“And this blood, we are going to warehouse them in the 6 geopolitical zones with additional Port Harcourt, Lagos, and Kano so that any part of the country where blood is required in large quantity, we can always mobilize from that centre to where it is needed. There is no need to say we don’t have blood.
“The establishment of the commission would ensure that not only state governments and their big tertiary hospitals would have blood banks, but every local government should have at least a blood bank so that people in need would be able to access it easily and cheaply,” he said.
Joseph also appealed to Nigerians to cultivate the culture of donating blood, saying it is healthy doing so.
According to him, blood donation is necessary to keep one healthy. Once you donate blood, new cells come up to replenish the one you have donated because blood produced by the body expires over time and is reabsorbed by the body.
On his part, the sponsor of the bill, Abas disclosed that President Buhari has assented to the bill to establish the National Blood Services Commission, describing it as a very important milestone in the medical sector.
”Before the ascent by the president, the industry had been fragmented. It had been to a great extent, unregulated and not too coordinated and because of that a lot of things are happening.”