Blood donor shares gift of life

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Alvine Kapitako

WINDHOEK – Shivering and unable to hold her new born baby girl for long in her arms, Lonia Nampunda had to ask her husband to call a nurse for assistance not long after she gave birth.

“I gave birth to my baby girl on the 7th of March 2012. On that specific day when I came from the theatre, I found my husband in the room with the little one in his arms and he said to me ‘I told you it’s a girl”, reminisced the 39-year-old Nampunda.

Nampunda thought she was shivering because of the cold temperature in theatre where she underwent caesarean section.

Concerned that she was shivering too much, Nampunda asked her husband to call the nurses for assistance.

“The nurse called the doctor and after examining me I was rushed back to the theatre. When I was returned to my room from the theatre, I overheard a nurse telling another nurse that I had lost too much blood and that I needed a blood transfusion,” Nampunda recalled.

“The nurse made a phone call and another nurse came with a unit of blood and after a discussion between these two nurses, they fixed the blood unit to my arm and did a blood transfusion,” she said.

It was then, that it dawned on her on the importance of donating blood.

Nampunda had donated blood prior to needing blood, however, the thought that somebody out there was able to save her life by donating blood was overwhelming, she says.  

“I started crying and the nurse asked if I was fine but I continued crying. I felt guilty that I was getting a blood transfusion, thanks to somebody who gave their blood not because they knew me or wanted something in return, but because they wanted people in my situation to have blood readily available,” stated Nampunda.

There and then, she vowed to become a regular blood donor.

Nampunda shared her story last Thursday at the ‘World blood donor day in Windhoek.  

World Blood Donor Day is observed every year on 14 March.

The event serves to applaud voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood as well as to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure the quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need, according to the Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia.

Meanwhile, 33-year-old Carika Martins has been donating blood since the age of 16. She told New Era she is a regular blood door because it does not cost anything to give blood.

“I can give it for free,” said Martins who donated blood between five to six times in a year.

Like Nampunda, Martins also needed a blood transfusion with the birth of her son, five years ago.

“You never know when you will need blood, rather give it while you can,” said Martins.

Also, a regular blood donor, 19-year-old Hessen Petrus started donating blood three years ago, when the NAMBTS visited the school where he was attending for a donor clinic.

“I did it because everyone was doing it,” said Petrus. His teacher encouraged him and many other students to continue donating blood.

“I donate as often as I can because it’s for a good course, it helps safe lives and you never know when you are going to need a blood transfusion,” added Petrus.

According to the NAMBTS, there are 22, 800 active blood donors, which is 0.9 percent of the population. Further, the World Health Organisation states that 100 percent voluntary blood donation is needed to provide safe blood to communities.

Significant progress has been made during the past decade in improving the availability and safety of blood in Africa, according to NAMBTS.

“Collecting blood by voluntary unpaid donations through well-organised donor recruitment systems has been shown to be safer, more effective and more efficient than hospital-based family or replacement donations,” according to the NAMBTS.

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