Blood Shortage, Major Cause Of Maternal Mortality–Doctor

A haematologist, Dr Peter Ogundeji, yesterday said that shortage of blood in hospitals for onward transfusion to pregnant women was a leading cause of maternal deaths in the country.
Ogundeji, a resident doctor at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, made this disclosure to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan.
“Majority of our pregnant women who died in this country died simply because we could not give them blood when they needed it”, Ogundeji said.
He said that the lack of blood for emergency transfusions also posed a major challenge in other clinical cases including severe malaria in children.
“The commonest cause of under-five mortality in our environment is severe malaria, which is complicated by severe anaemia.
“So, many children who are brought to the hospital because of severe malaria will require treatment and many may die because of shortage of blood in our hospitals”, he said.
He said that shortage of blood in hospitals was as a result of inadequate number of voluntary blood donors.
Ogundeji said that voluntary blood donation was considered important because there was no known well tested alternative to blood transfusion and blood could only be obtained from human beings.
“The ideal way for collecting blood from potential donors for storage in the blood bank is through voluntary blood donation.
“In other parts of the world, about 100 per cent of the blood obtained are from voluntary blood donors, however, this is not so in our country.
He said that misconceptions and attitudinal problems exhibited by potential blood donors has greatly hindered voluntary blood donation in the country.
“If we are going to do anything as a society to ensure that our pregnant women don’t die from complications of pregnancy, then we must improve on our attitude towards blood donation.

“We need to move away from a transfusion system that relies on post-admission recruitment of family replacement donors and sensitise more Nigerians to the benefits of regular voluntary blood donation”, he said.
The haematologist said that only one-ninth of a donor’s blood is collected during blood donation, contrary to the belief that a life could become endangered after blood donation.
“Studies have shown that letting one out 10 units in your system will not affect you in any way except you have conditions that will compromise you; which we are going to check for before we bleed a donor for our blood banks.
“It will be important to know that an average adult has about five to six litres of blood in his system and when someone donates blood, he donates just about 400-450 millilitres,” he said.
According to him, the more a person donates, the more opportunity he gets for regular medical checks and also for early detection of diseases like Hepatitis B and C infections; syphilis and HIV.