By Aliyu Yusuf, Zaria
A Haematologist with Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Prof. Haruna Muktar yesterday said about 4 million Nigerians are living with sickle cells anaemia who need regular blood transfusions.
He stated this in an interview with Journalists shortly after a rally to commemorate World Blood Donor Day held at the main campus of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
He explained that those sickle cells patients require frequent blood transfusion, but lamented that the rate of blood donation among Nigerians was still very low.
While appealing to Nigerians to endeavour to donate blood willingly to assist others, Muktar said such donation would safe the lives of millions of people across the country.
The consultant said the essence of organising the rally was to queue-in into the celebration of the day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate and encourage people to donate blood.
“We are here today to sensitise people to make them aware of their responsibilities to come and donate blood regularly.
“Following last year’s sensitisation, there appeared a marginal increase in blood donation from about 300,000 units to about 400,000 units across Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, the wisdom behind blood donation is to cater for blood transfusion needs of accident victims, illnesses, natural disasters and women delivering among others.
Consultant Haematologist urged the National Assembly to expedite action toward passing National Blood Transfusion Bill to enable Nigerians with blood transfusion needs benefit from it.
Also in an interview, the Head of Haematology and Blood Transfusion Department, ABUTH, Dr Abdul-Aziz Hassan urged people to donate blood regularly not until disaster strikes.
He said the importance of June 14 every year was to celebrate those people who donate blood selflessly to assist other people.
“Give blood now and give often. This is because if you have people who donate blood without being paid for, such blood is mostly safer than one given by family replacement donors or commercial donors.
“As you know, the WHO had banned the use of paid donors, however, up to now is not effective in Nigeria because people are not donating.
“Therefore, we do not have enough safe blood. So, by going round today, we are going to encourage young people to imbibe the habit of donating blood at least once in every three to four moths,” he said.
The rally was preceded by free blood test covering all ailments.