WHERE DID THE BLOOD COLLECTED DURING THE
WESTGATE ATTACK GO?
There has been a recurrent question of where the blood that was collected during the Westgate attack period go. Before I answer that question I would like to give a brief background of the issues and the players who were involved. The Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service is a unit under the Ministry of Health charged with the mandate of collecting, testing, processing and distributing blood to all transfusing hospitals in Kenya.
Last year the nation plunged into mourning following what came to me known as the Westgate terrorist attack where over 60 people lost their lives and scores were injured. As it were, the attack created unprecedented demand for blood following the numerous injuries. Many Kenyans turned out in their number after his Excellency the President, Uhuru Kenyatta made a national appeal to Kenyans to donate blood to help save lives of the injured. At this point I would like to thank all who came to donate blood for being selfless.
I would however want to shed light on some aspects of the blood that was collected during the six days between Sunday 22nd and Friday 27th September 2013 when the shopping mall was under siege.
The facts are as follows; the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service collected a total of 17,230 units of blood with the bulk being donated at Uhuru Park in Nairobi with a collection of 6,175 units. The balance was collected in our 5 regional blood transfusion centres namely Kisumu (1,522), Embu (68), Mombasa (2,374), Eldoret (1,490) Nakuru (1,917). Other satellite stations like Kisii, Machakos, Nyeri, Kakamega, Garissa, Meru and Kitale also collected a substantial amount of blood.
There has been talk on social and mainstream media that the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service discarded the blood that was donated after it expired or went bad, nothing could be further from the truth. The life span of fresh blood is 35 days. The KNBTS distributed all the blood it collected to the transfusing hospitals across the country. The monthly blood requirement in Kenya is approximately 32,500 units that means the 17,230 we collected represented slightly more than a half of the national requirement. This means that our blood recruiters and mobiliser had work to do in the month.
The blood was distributed all over the country to our centres who in turn distributed it to the transfusing hospitals.
No blood was discarded as alleged by some quarters, the blood agency is managed by well trained and qualified personnel who could not have sat back as that precious commodity went bad. The components which were extracted from part of the blood including Platelets, Red blood cells and fresh frozen plasma(FFP) some have a lifespan of up to one year under refrigeration.
It is imperative to note that the World Health Organization has set the benchmark for blood sufficiency in any country to be between 1 and 3% of its total the population. In Kenya working with a figure of 40 million people, if 1% of that population donated blood once a year we would have 400,000 units to meet our national requirement, or if half that number of people donated twice a year.
We would therefore like to make a passionate appeal to Kenyans especially the adults to make it a habit to donate blood regularly. An adult male is can donate blood after every three months while a female could do it after four months. Donating blood improve the production of new blood cells by your bone marrow, reduces the risk of cancer and heart attack besides the noble act of saving another person’s life.
Dr. Margaret Oduor,