November 29, 2023

Angela Onwuzoo 

A Consultant Haematologist, Dr. Bodunrin Osikomaiya, has urged women interested in voluntary blood donation not to be discouraged by untrue claims that they cannot donate blood like men, noting that the only time they cannot donate blood is when they are pregnant, menstruating or breastfeeding.

Dr. Osikomaiya, who is the Executive Secretary of Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service, said women can donate blood like men anytime they desire, stressing that it is a good thing to do.

Disclosing this during an exclusive interview with Reportr Door HealthWise, the blood transfusion specialist, said women should disregard the myth, stressing that women can donate blood if they are eligible. 

The LSBTS boss explained, “There is a myth that women cannot donate blood. That myth is not true. Women can donate blood if they are eligible.

“It is the lack of awareness that makes people think that women cannot donate blood. Women should come into the LSBTS and check if they are eligible to donate blood.

“We are telling them to come and check because before you donate blood, you have a set of questions you must answer.

“If you are pregnant, you cannot donate blood, if you are in your menstrual cycle, you cannot donate blood and if you are breastfeeding, you cannot donate blood.

“Now, if you are not in any of these categories, you can come and check your eligibility to donate blood.”

According to her, the number of women donating blood in the state is more than people think.

“Women are more empathetic, they have this motherly feeling, they feel what people feel and the pain of others.

“I read a particular study that revealed that women are more emphatic about donating blood. 

“So, more women are willing to donate. But they might not be all eligible to donate blood compared to men. Men feel blood donation is an ego thing; it is a man’s thing,” she added.

The World Health Organisation says it is not advisable to donate blood while breastfeeding and during pregnancy.

In its eligibility guidelines for blood donors published on its website, WHO noted that people aged between 18 and 65 years can donate blood but must be in good health at the time they donate.

“You cannot donate if you have a cold, flu, sore throat, cold sore, stomach bug, or any other infection.

“If you have recently had a tattoo or body piercing you cannot donate for six months from the date of the procedure. If the body piercing was performed by a registered health professional and any inflammation has settled completely, you can donate blood after 12 hours.

“It is not advisable to donate blood while breastfeeding. Following childbirth, the deferral period is at least 9 months (as for pregnancy) and until 3 months after your baby is significantly weaned,” the global health body says.

Continuing, Osikomaiya, said the percentage of women donating blood in the state had increased over the years, a development she attributed to an increase in awareness creation.

LSBTS boss noted, “if you look at the ratio of females to males, the percentage of women has gradually increased over the years.  

“The percentage in 2020 was about 11 per cent. In 2021, due to the awareness created of voluntary blood donation, more women came out and the figure rose to 20 per cent.  

“So, women are coming out to donate blood. It is all about advocacy, telling them that they can also donate blood.”

Osikomaiya urged women in the state to come and donate blood, stressing that the state with over 20 million populations needs an average of 200,000 units of blood annually.

She stated, “The demand for blood is ever-present and increasing especially with the growing population of Lagos State. 

“This blood transfusion demand, according to the WHO estimation, is that blood donation from at least one to two per cent of the population is needed to meet their blood needs.

“This is why we need residents to donate voluntarily to meet these demands and save precious lives.”

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