Blood Connects Us All

The World blood donor day is observed on the 14th day of June every year - the birthday anniversary of Karl Landsteiner (the man who reached a milestone in the discovery of the ABO blood group system). In the year 1900, Karl Landsteiner found out that the blood of two people agglutinated upon contact. This led to the identification of the different blood groups which eventually resulted in the first successful blood transfusion in 1907.
An average-sized adult has about 5 litres of blood in total. If about 1.5 litres of blood get lost, it can be replaced with salt solution while the body restores the lost blood with red blood cells overtime. The remedy for anaemia which can develop as a result of severe blood loss is blood transfusion.
Blood transfusion is a lifesaving procedure that may be done to supplement various components of blood with donated blood products. Conditions that may require a blood transfusion include:
         ·         Blood loss due to childbirth, major surgeries or severe accident.
         ·         Anaemia that will not respond to other forms of treatment.
         ·         Inherited blood disorders.
Blood has various components which include the red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. Just as blood collected in an anticoagulant can be stored and transfused to a patient in an unmodified state, it can also be dissociated into its various components and transfused separately. This allows a single unit of blood to benefit several people. Various forms of transfusion include:

  •       Platelets transfusion: This is for people with low platelets in their blood. This could be due to cancers (leukaemia or lymphoma), chemotherapy, chronic liver disease, severe infection (sepsis) or haemophilia (inherited blood disorder).

  •       Plasma transfusion: This may be needed after severe bleeding or in conditions that affect the production of clotting proteins (such as liver disease) or bad burns.

  •       Red cells transfusion: This is the most commonly performed transfusion. The red blood cells take oxygen and nutrients to the cells and transport wastes away from the cells.

  •      Cryoprecipitate: This is the frozen protein fraction of plasma. It contains a major portion of the Factor VIII, von Willebrand factor, fibrinogen, Factor XIII and fibronectin present in plasma.

The risks associated with blood transfusion include fever, allergic reactions/ hives, blood-borne infection, lung injury, graft-versus-host disease etcetera. In spite of these risks, safe blood transfused into any anaemic patient can go a long way to keep the person from dying and can help the person live an improved life. Blood transfusion can only take place after a blood donation as blood is not manufactured by any known means. However, donated blood needs to be screened for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis to ensure its safety. This is the reason for the call on healthy young people to donate blood as blood connects us all. #WorldBloodDonorDay

 By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi


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