Dying patients begging for my blood inspired donation drive— Kinyua

In mid-November last year, Emilio Kinyua faced a disturbing choice to make.

On one side was an elderly woman crying and begging him to donate his blood to her dying daughter.

Minutes later, he was brought a sick man, who was ready to pay him Sh10,000 for a pint (about half a litre) of his blood.

“I first went to Pumwani [Maternity Hospital] and volunteered to donate blood.  I also told them I would mobilise Kenyans to donate. They held a meeting and said they didn’t have the capacity to collect blood and referred me to Kenyatta National Hospital,” he explains.

This was November last year. Kenya’s blood banks have been running nearly dry since 2019 when the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) stopped funding the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service.

When Covid-19 struck in 2020, the country sank to its worst blood shortage in more than a decade.

Kenya requires between 500,000 to one million units of blood a year, yet collects less than a quarter of that volume.

“So I went to KNH and explained to a security guard that I wanted to donate blood. He immediately told me ‘come’, and led me to this woman crying, with her sick daughter. Her daughter was in need of two pints of blood,” he says.

KNH usually gives a letter to patients who need blood, indicating what blood type they need and why. They use this letter to beg for blood from their relatives and friends or to buy from private hospitals at Sh4,500 per pint.

“The guard went away and brought me an older man,” Kinyua says.

He had a crinkled face and spoke with an open frown as if yawning in exhaustion or groaning in exasperation.  “This one pleaded with me saying he was ready to pay me Sh10,000 to give him a pint of my blood to save his life. He was called away to the ward as we spoke.”

Emilio has blood O- negative. It has the highest demand because it is used most often during emergencies and can be given to everyone.  However, people with this blood group can only receive from others with O-.

“I met the regional director for national blood transfusion services near KNH and he told me there is no need to donate your two pints, just go and mobilise other Kenyans, and you will be first to donate,” Kinyua says.

Two weeks ago, he organised the first blood drive in Nairobi this year, outside the Kenya National Archives, where 422 donors came and donated the same number of pints, over five days.

According to KNBTS, one person can only donate one pint of blood once every three months for men and once every four months for women.

“A pint (450ml) can save up to four lives depending on components prepared from the donated unit. Components include cryoprecipitate, packed Red Cells, Fresh Frozen Plasma, Platelets,” the service says.

The process is easy. You just show up, roll up your sleeves and potentially save a life. The process takes about an hour, which includes a 15-minute observation period.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button
WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By :