Nana Serwaa Brakatuo believed she died in a horrific car crἀsh in December 2022 from a ruptured liver and pulmonary embolism. The fact that her injuries caused internal bIeeding only made things worse.
She had lost a lot of blood by the time she was transported to our clinic. Beatrice Mfoafo, a critical care nurse at Ghana’s 37 Military Hospital in the city of Accra, recalls a day when the hospital desperately needed blood donations.
Nana Brakatuo’s road to recovery started with three weeks and two procedures. Mfoafo, however, believes that the blood transfusion was the deciding factor in the race to save Nana Brakatuo’s life, adding, “Despite our expertise, she would not have survived if we had not gotten the blood she needed.” Donors’ blood and the National Blood Service’s action saved her life.
Nana Brakatuo’s heartbreaking story is not dissimilar to that of 10-year-old Benedict Afotey, who was transported to the hospital and ultimately saved by 5 units of blood. These incidents serve as constant reminders of the lifesaving contributions made possible by blood donors.
A total of 179 765 units of blood were collected in Ghana in 2022, with 45 463 of those being donated voluntarily. And for these selfless blood donors, stories like Nana Brakatuo’s and tiny Afotey’s keep them coming back to the national blood bank.
Blood donor Henry Nii Abossey Thompson states:
“I believe it is our collective civic responsibility to ensure that blood is readily available for all who need it.”
Thompson has given blood 100 times since 1976. Putting yourself on the line to save the life of someone is incredibly rewarding.
There was a rise from 5.7 in 2021 to 5.8 in 2022 in terms of the blood collection index (BCI) per 1000 people. However, this is still not enough to meet even the most fundamental transfusion requirements, since the World Health Organization suggests collecting at least 10 units per 1,000 people.
Therefore, the Ghana National Blood Service, which has been spearheading efforts to mobilize blood across the country, is stepping up its daily efforts to encourage voluntary donations.
“As a service, we welcome new donors daily because a growing population of blood donors will keep blood banks adequately stocked,” says Dr. Shirley Owusu-Ofori, CEO of the National Blood Service. Blood transfusions in emergencies can’t wait, thus we need a constant supply.
The agency has been collaborating with organizations like the WHO to increase its capabilities and promote blood sufficiency. Over the years, WHO has offered both technical and financial assistance to improve the availability of safe blood by training transfusion workers and promoting blood donation through advocacy and awareness-raising efforts.
In accordance with resolution WHA63.12, the World Health Assembly encourages all Member States to establish national blood systems based on voluntary unpaid contributions.
To ensure that blood collection, testing, processing, storage, and distribution are coordinated at the national level through efficient organization and integrated blood supply networks, WHO and other partners are helping the National Blood Service complete the 4th National 5-year Strategic Plan.
Dr. Angela Ackon, the Technical Officer for Quality and Safety at WHO Ghana said:
“Supporting Ghana to make blood and other blood components available and accessible to all is a priority for WHO.”
“We are currently using our 75-anniversary activities to advocate and educate people to cultivate the culture of regular voluntary blood donations”.
Now that Nana Serwaa Brakatuo has started the road to recovery, she is convinced that blood donors save lives. “Words cannot express my gratitude to all blood donors,” says an ecstatic Nana Brakatuo. Someone’s decision to give blood was directly responsible for saving my life.
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