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Haematologists Declare Claim That Women Can’t Donate Blood is False

In the opinion of medical professionals,blood donation is not only meant for men,but that women can also donate blood to save lives despite the limitations that affect their donation rate.

Furthermore,most specialist felt that the claim stating women cannot donate blood is just a myth and lacks scientific backing,the decline in the female voluntary blood donors is a cultural thing that has nothing to do with medicine.

Most haematologists noticed that women were even more emphatic in donating blood than men.

However,physicians said women could donate blood if they are not pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.

The experts urged Nigerians to donate blood and to also stop being afraid that their blood could be used for ritual or diabolical purposes, stressing that blood donated in hospitals is used for medical purposes only.

The experts identified culture, traditional beliefs, and lack of awareness as major issues preventing Nigerians from donating blood.

The World Health Organisation says most people both men and women, can give blood if they are in good health, adding however that some basic requirements must be met in order to become a blood donor.

Data from the National Blood Service Commission indicate that Nigeria needs an average of two million units of blood annually to keep the health of its about 200 million populations safe and sound.

Sadly, the commission notes that out of these two million units of blood required as a nation, the blood service Commission collects only 500,000 units which are 25 per cent of the expected annual blood donation.
Dr Bodunrin Osikomaiya

Speaking with our correspondent, a Consultant Haematologist, Dr Bodunrin Osikomaiya, said it was untrue that women cannot donate blood.

Osikomaiya, who is the Executive Secretary of Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service, said women can donate blood if they are not pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.

The blood transfusion specialist urged women to disregard the myth, stressing that women can donate blood if they are eligible.

The LSBTS boss said, “There is a myth that women cannot donate blood. That myth is not true. Women can donate blood if they are eligible

“It is the lack of awareness that makes people think that women cannot donate blood. Women should come into the LSBTS and check if they are eligible to donate blood.

“We are telling them to come and check because before you donate blood, you have a set of questions you must answer.

“If you are pregnant, you cannot donate blood, if you are in your menstrual cycle, you cannot donate blood and if you are breastfeeding, you cannot donate blood.

“Now, if you are not in any of these categories, you can come and check your eligibility to donate blood.”

According to her, the number of women donating blood in the state is more than what people think.

“Women are more emphatic, they have this motherly feeling, they feel what people feel and the pain of others.

“I read a particular study that revealed that women are more emphatic about donating blood.

“So, more women are willing to donate. But they might not be all eligible to donate blood compared to men. Men feel blood donation is an ego thing; it is a man’s thing”, she added.

The WHO says it is not advisable to donate blood while breast-feeding and during pregnancy.

In its eligibility guidelines for blood donors published on its website, WHO notes that people aged between 18 and 65 years can donate blood but must be in good health at the time they donate.

“You cannot donate if you have a cold, flu, sore throat, cold sore, stomach bug or any other infection.

“If you have recently had a tattoo or body piercing you cannot donate for six months from the date of the procedure. If the body piercing was performed by a registered health professional and any inflammation has settled completely, you can donate blood after 12 hours.

“It is not advisable to donate blood while breast-feeding. Following childbirth, the deferral period is at least 9 months (as for pregnancy) and until 3 months after your baby is significantly weaned”, the global health body said.

Continuing, Osikomaiya, said the percentage of women donating blood in the state had increased over the years, a development she attributed to increase in awareness creation.

LSBTS boss noted, “if you look at the ratio of females to males, the percentage of women has gradually increased over the years.

“The percentage in 2020 was about 11 percent. In 2021, due to the awareness created on voluntary blood donation, more women came out and the figure rose to 20 percent.

“So, women are coming out to donate blood. It is all about advocacy, telling them that they can also donate blood.”

Osikomaiya urged women in the state to come and donate blood, stressing that the state with over 20 million populations needs an average of 200,000 units of blood annually.

She stated, “The demand for blood is ever-present and increasing especially with the growing population of Lagos State.

“This blood transfusion demand, according to the WHO estimation, is that blood donation from at least one to two percent of the population is needed to meet their blood needs.

“This is why we need residents to donate voluntarily to meet these demands and save precious lives.”

A Consultant PaediatricHaematologist and Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof. EdamisanTemiye, said while donating blood is lifesaving, cultural belief remains a major obstacle to blood donation in Nigeria.

Temiye said, “Our belief system is affecting blood donation, as well as our attitude to health. The attitude of people to health is poor.

“The belief by many Nigerians that when they donate blood, it will be used for ritual purposes is a major problem. Some say that they don’t have enough blood, forgetting that before they donate blood, they will be screened whether they are fit for the donation or not.”

The haematologist said the approach in Nigeria where family members are compelled to donate blood for their loved ones during emergencies is wrong, insisting that voluntary blood donation is the way to go.

“The things Nigerians are going through is flawless. If your relation wants to go for surgery, then a family member must be asked to donate blood because there is a shortage of blood in the blood bank. Whereas if people go to donate blood voluntarily and there is enough blood in our blood banks, there’s no need to compel anybody to donate blood because it is already available