Why donating blood should be part of your New Year Resolutions

The new year comes with expectations of improvements as people make resolutions, plans and prayers for 2023. Those that do not believe in the idea of resolutions often ask why you need to wait for a new year to set or re-evaluate your goals after all you can make and achieve targets at any time of the year. However, there is something about the reset of every year that beckons new hope for individuals and SMEs.

When people think of charitable acts for the new year, they often think of giving money, food and other items. While these are extremely valuable, especially given the general economic challenges, this year provides an opportunity to try a new charitable act-Give Blood to patients in need.

Every year, Nigeria gets only 27% of its annual blood need, with the National Blood Commission (NBSC), NBSC collecting only 500,000 pints of blood every year, leaving a shortfall of about 73.3%. NBSC data shows that only 8% of Nigerians donate blood freely, and 80% of donors give to relatives in need. This causes needless trauma and loss of lives. People often respond to calls to give blood to their relatives, friends, church members or acquaintances because they have a connection. In fact, several public hospitals had policies of husbands compulsorily donating blood for their pregnant wives in case they need it.

This year, we should make a resolution to donate blood to all patients in need. This is particularly critical for people with rare blood groups such as O and B Negative who struggle to find matching donors. We would all want the blood to be available if our loved one were in an accident, needs surgery or has a baby. In addition, people living with certain conditions such as sickle cell disease and various cancers require transfusions every few weeks. This corresponds to how frequently donors are generally eligible to give blood-every 12 weeks for men or 16 weeks for women. Each blood donation has the potential to save up to three lives because various components can be used for every patient. You register as a blood donor online through organizations such as Haima Health Initiative who can schedule your donation and call you when patients are in need around you. You can also walk into the branches of the National Blood Transfusion Commission, Lagos Blood Transfusion Service and most major government hospitals to donate.

Giving blood is one of the best ways to dedicate your time, provide empathy and support the most vulnerable members of society. The best part is that giving blood is free for you.

Bukola Bolarinwa, Founder of Haima Health Initiative and Partnership Manager, Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF).