Lagos Commissioner For Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi at the Stakeholders’ symposium organized by Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service to commemorate 2021 World Blood Donor Day

By Nimot Sulaimon

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi has said that the State Government is poised to ensure that there is an adequate supply of clean, safe and non-remunerated blood.

This will help meet the State’s blood requirement needs for clinical and emergency transfusion purposes.

He said this at the Stakeholders’ symposium organized by Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service to commemorate the year 2021 World Blood Donor Day celebration.

Abayomi explained that the government is saddled with two responsibilities when it comes to the provision of blood;  the adequate supply of blood and availability of only safe blood for transfusion.

“As a government, we have to do two things; we have to make sure that there is enough blood in Lagos to meet all our blood transfusion requirements and it is equally important that blood is safe”, he said.

Abayomi noted that blood is an important human organ that is required to keep people alive stressing that just like other organ transplant procedures, blood transfusion is a serious medical procedure that should not be taken lightly.

He added that a pint of blood, which he referred to as a liquid organ can save multiple lives for different medical reasons.

“Blood is an organ; even though it a liquid organ, and every time we give a unit of blood, we are giving you an organ transplant because it life; it has come from one person and it is going to another person and so every time we give a blood transfusion, we are performing an organ transplant.

“You have to think of it in the seriousness of the context of what it is, organ transplants are not performed lightly; just because it is liquid and we have access to it easily does not change the importance and the significance of giving blood as an organ transplant. We as a government need to make sure that there is enough blood around for emergencies that require blood.

“When you lose blood, your bone marrow replaces your blood, but you can lose blood very quickly and your body can not replenish the blood at the speed at which you are losing it, and if you go beyond a threshold, you are likely to die from your body’s inability to carry oxygen around to your vital organs, which is why we can come in with an emergency transfusion and save your life by giving you that blood that can carry oxygen and prevent you from dying”.

The Commissioner while noting that Lagos requires 260,000 units of blood to meet its yearly blood need, however, revealed that the State is only able to get 87,000 units of blood leaving it with a huge shortage of blood to meet the yearly requirement.

“This is why we carry out regular and continuous blood donation recruitment drives across the State to encourage young healthy people to give and donate blood.

“In giving and donating blood, you may not be there at the bedside when your blood is saving somebody’s life, you should however note that anytime you give blood, that you are saving somebody’s life and preventing them from being very unwell”, He added

Stressing on the importance of safe blood for transfusion, Abayomi stated that blood transfusion should be geared towards saving and enhancing the lives of patients and not aggravate their medical conditions or fitness.

“It is equally important that blood is safe, that is the second responsibility of government, and as we perform this organ transplant of blood donation and transfusion, we have to ensure that we are giving people who require blood a unit of blood that is going to help them and not make them sick.

“It is quite possible that in the process of giving blood that a patient’s medical condition might be worsened either in the form of an infection or a reaction; and many people by no fault of theirs have many diseases like hepatitis, HIV or any other kind of infection that lives in the blood because of blood transfusion.

“This is why we as government need to make sure that as we are taking blood from one person and we are trying to give it to another person, that we are giving you blood that is saving your life and not giving you a new problem”.

The Commissioner noted that Lagos is tilting more towards getting blood supply from voluntary donors rather than from coerced, paid or remunerated donors stressing that blood from voluntary donors is more likely to be safe than from the blood from paid donors.

“It is people who are paid to donate blood that is likely to be carrying problems that can create an issue for the person receiving that blood. So we are trying to promote voluntary donation as opposed to paid or coerced donation.

“It is however unfortunate that out of the 87,000 unit of blood available in Lagos, only about 10 per cent of that number is from voluntary donors, the rest is coming from coercing or paid donation, and this is unacceptable according to the World Health Organization, so in Lagos, we are trying to make sure that all the blood we collect is from people who are young, healthy and want to help the medical fraternity in saving lives.

“We want people out of the goodness of their heart to go and donate blood for no other reason other than they want to help somebody live and also help the medical fraternity continue to save lives”, Abayomi said.

While highlighting efforts directed at encouraging voluntary blood donation, the Commissioner disclosed that the Governor has released funds for equipping the recently commissioned new LSBTS headquarters at Gbagada with modern technology.

“So, Lagos is performing at international standard now, and kudos to the Executive Secretary and the LSBTS team for their efforts, many people are alive because of the work they do daily.

“Needless to say that LSBTS team is involved in the COVID response, collecting blood inside the heart of the COVID isolation facilities, putting their lives at risk, collecting blood from people who had survived COVID and using that blood to treat people that were on the death doorstep from COVID.

“And the blood they collected from people who survived was helping in rescuing people who are dying from COVID and many hundreds of people were saved by that technology that LSBTS has at its disposal”, Abayomi stated.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health Dr Olusegun Ogboye said the theme of the 2021 World Blood Donor Day “Celebrating the Gift of Blood” is apt and well thought out noting that the celebration will go a long way in encouraging more voluntary blood donors which will help in bridging the gap of blood shortages in Lagos.

Ogboye who was represented by the Director, Pharmaceutical Services, Mrs Mosunmola Beckley congratulated the Lagos State Blood transfusion services for the provision of clean and safe blood that has saved a lot of lives in the state. She also applauded all voluntary blood donors who have willingly donated blood to save a life.

Executive Secretary, Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service Dr Bodurin Osikomaiya acknowledged the commitment of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration to the provision of safe and adequate blood supply in the State.

She noted that the operation of LSBTS has been reinvigorated through infrastructure development, capacity building and motivation by the Governor and the Health Commissioner for effective service delivery.

Osikomaiya stated that her agency will continue to provide services that will be in line with international best practices and standards. She assured me that her agency will look at the suggestions and resolutions of the symposium for better service delivery in the blood transfusion chain.

“We poised and have been motivated to effectively carry out our mandate and I want to assure citizens that quality assurance will take the front seat as we carry out our tasks going forward”, she said.

The highpoint of the event was the decoration and presentation of awards to the Chairman House Committee on Health, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Hakeem Shokunle, and Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Oluwole Kalesanwo as Voluntary Blood Donation Ambassadors.