Regain37 Impacting the Blood Donor Community.
A health fact in Zimbabwe since Covid-19 hit; there are not enough blood donations happening. This was the heavy reality that shadowed our first programme with the National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ). To say that blood donations are a critical element of our health system would be a severe understatement. The blood donation system which is entirely reliant of volunteers taking their time to visit a blood service office was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic which kept people in their homes.
Regain37 joined hands with NBSZ with the aim of understanding how the process of blood donations was done, the challenges for potential blood donors and how they could be helped through counselling. Regain37 learnt so much from this event as evidenced in our experience with three women.
Eugenia* walked gingerly towards our van, intrigued by the wind turbine on top of the van. As she sat down to receive counselling from our matron, her pale face told a story on its own. Eugenia informed the Matron that she had come to donate blood, but she had a low iron count. She was not the only one. In Zimbabwe, most failed cases for blood donation are women. This is mainly because due to a lack of health education, women usually go seeking to donate blood but fail to because of the effect of menstruation as well as family planning methods that in some cases affects their blood flow.
For Eugenia, her family planning method induced heavy menstrual flows that could last for up to eight days. This was also the case for Shamiso* who although she did not take any family planning tool had irregular menses which came with heavy menstrual flows. The counselling services that Regain37 provided to this women more than giving them adequate information of how to improve their health also did something profound; they limited the shame of the rejection when one goes to donate blood.
This shame is what Tariro* a 22-year-old first time blood donor felt after she was rejected for donation. The counselling and re-assurance gave her the courage and desire to return two weeks later to donate blood. Being able to remind rejected potential donors that it is ok is important because one person can donate as much as a 100 times over a lifetime. That translates to a 100 life saving blood transfusions that go to women in labour or people who need transfusions after suffering a bad car accident.
At Regain37, we believe that the health education services we provide have important impact for both the individual and the community. The delicate system of blood donations being one of areas where we believe that every drop counts, because it really does. By providing health education, Regain37 is able to positively influence the morale and mental health of those who seek to donate blood through our counselling services.
Which begs the question to you reader, have you donated blood recently?
*The names of the patients have been changed to protect their identities.