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Blood Donation Won’t Affect Libido, Haematologists Reassure Men

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For men who have fears that donating blood would negatively affect their libido, haematologists and blood transfusion experts have clarified that the process is safe and does not impact sexual drive or desire.

They also reassured that it does not make donors sick, noting that several screenings and tests are usually conducted to ascertain a donor’s health status and blood level before being bled.

The haematologists emphasised that both males and females can donate blood and encouraged Nigerians to voluntarily donate to save the many lives in dire need of blood.

Healthwise gathered from several studies that beliefs such as sexual failure or reduced sexual performance, falling sick, blood being used for ritual purposes, and contracting infection were factors hindering voluntary blood donation.

As a result, only 27 per cent, that is about 500,000 pints of blood is obtained every year from voluntary donors as revealed by Nigeria’s National Blood Service Commission.

This further implies that about 73.3 per cent of blood needed in the blood bank, is obtained from commercial and family replacement donors.

Family replacement donation is where a patient’s relative donates the amount of blood needed or used by their relative while commercial donation is where individuals donate blood in return for money or other incentives.

However, the World Health Organisation recommends and recognises voluntary blood donation and expects that every country gets 100 per cent of their blood from voluntary blood donors.

The WHO noted that this is meant to ensure the safety and sustainable supply of blood banks globally.

To appreciate voluntary blood donors and further raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, the WHO sets aside June 14 as World Blood Donor Day.

The WBDD theme for 2024 is: “Celebrating 20 Years of Giving: Thank You, Blood Donors!”

Data from WHO reveals that out of 118.5 million blood donations globally, 40 per cent of them are in high-income countries.

It further noted that in lower-middle-income countries, of which Nigeria is one, based on the World Bank classification, the blood donation rate is 6.6 per

Healthwise, a professor of Haematology and Blood Transfusion at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Akinbami Abduljaleel, said all blood donors are screened and assessed to ascertain their fitness and eligibility before being allowed to donate.

He, however, noted that due to the increased level of testosterone, a hormone responsible for the production of red blood cells in males, the WHO recommended that the packed cell volume of a male blood donor must be greater than 39 and 36 for females.

The don asserted that donors with a low proportion of red blood cells or PCV were rejected.

Abduljaleel further corrected the notion that donating blood caused sickness and reduced libido in men.

“It is very safe to donate blood and it has nothing whatsoever to do with libido because libido is controlled by the brain and spinal cord. So anything that can affect the brain and spinal cord can affect libido.

So blood donation does not in any way affect or lead to the loss of libido and it is very safe for donors,” the don reassured.

He further decried the poor culture of voluntary blood donation in the country, saying it causes a shortage in the blood bank.

He added that the unconfirmed myths further hinder the wide acceptance of voluntary donation.

Highlighting the benefits of blood donation, the haematologist, said “The lifespan of red blood cells, which is the longest, is 120 days in the body. It is produced in the bone marrow and whether one donates it or not, after 120 days, the cells are destroyed and then there is an automatic replacement as long as one is still alive.

Once the blood level drops, there is what is called a negative feedback mechanism that tells the bone marrow to produce the same amount of quantity of what was destroyed after 120 days.

“So it is only wise to donate blood that will save the life of another person rather than wait for 120 days to get it destroyed in the body.

Donating blood is something that will make one happy because no one knows whose life one is going to save with the blood donated. So that is what I would call a benefit from God.”

He also stated that voluntary blood donation allows donors to undergo a mini-medical checkup as individuals who are detected to be hypertensive or diabetic during the pre-donation screening are advised to see the doctor.

Abduljaleel said, “We also do a blood group for them and their immunoglobulin genotypes. So, these are what I would call benefits because they are free of charge once you have donated blood.

“We honour them (voluntary donors) every year. For example, June 5 was the 20th anniversary of the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service and I was one of the panellists.

Voluntary blood donors were recognised, given a plaque and had a handshake with the representative of the Lagos State Governor, the Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, and they were happy. So these are some of the benefits.”

The haematologist asserted that although Lagos State has the highest rate of voluntary blood donors, it is as low as 10 per cent, adding that other states recorded as low as three to five per cent.

 

He emphasised that the family replacement donors are forced to donate blood and that such a practice was not sustainable, stating that the rate of infections such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis B and C, were high among family replacement and commercial blood donors, which further re-enforces the need for pre-donation infection screening.

Abduljaleel explained that for patients who do not have relatives who can donate for them, a policy of payment, instead of blood transfusion was applied and that if the blood was unavailable, it would be obtained from the state’s accredited and registered private blood banks.

He stated that all private blood banks in the state brought their blood to designated government hospitals for screening, and units that passed the screening were stamped with a Lagos State label, while those that failed the screening were seized.

The don called for increased advocacy to orientate Nigerians on the need for voluntary blood donation and awareness of the benefits of blood donation.

“So, we need to change our mindset.

Many lives are lost due to lack of blood and we that are directly involved are directly aware of it. So, it is the responsibility of the governments to turn a new leaf and invest more. It is also the responsibility of the people to donate blood regularly. One can donate three times a year or a maximum of four times.

“So, if everybody is involved, from 18 years to 65 years, whether male or female, then there will be an increased supply of blood.

“As it is, there is a gap between supply and demand, and the demand far outweighs the supply, and the gap needs to be breached,” the haematologist said.

The blood transfusion expert also urged the government to invest in expanding and centralising blood banks to ensure blood needs in a particular area are met.

‘It can’t make you sick’

Meanwhile, a professor of Haematology and Blood Transfusion at the College of Medical Science, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Kaladada Korubo, said myths that hint at male blood donors ending up with reduced libido are untrue.

She also corrected the notion that voluntary blood donors become sick after being bled, stating that proper screening and tests were done before any donor was allowed to donate.

“So, with the questionnaire, if someone has any ailment or disease, it will be identified. In addition to that, vital signs like blood pressure will be checked. Donating blood does not make somebody fall sick except if the person already has a sickness undetected sickness.

“Also, the blood level of the donors will also be checked. You must have blood within the normal level and have enough to give so that after you donate it won’t affect you. So blood donation should be safe for both the donor and the patient,” the don said.

 

The haematologist further noted that there is usually a time interval, which is a minimum of three months between the last blood donation and the current one.

“Also, try not to donate more than three, a maximum of four times in a year. If someone donated blood last month and then wants to donate again the next month, the person is creating problems for him or herself.

If the ideal circumstances are kept to, one should not fall sick donating blood,” the don added.

Korubo, an Honorary Consultant Haematologist at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, however, noted that commercial donors flout the recommended frequency of blood donation, stressing that those who engage in the act cause problems for themselves.

The don allayed the fears of first-time donors, stating that the woozy or dizzy feeling a few minutes during or after being bled was temporary and would fade after a few minutes of lying down, and drinking some water or malt.

She also noted that regular voluntary blood donors enjoy the benefit of undergoing a free mini health check, consequently helping them to lead a cautious and healthy life.

Kurobo said donating blood was beneficial to both the donor and the recipient.

The haematologist, however, decried the low rate of voluntary blood donors in the country, noting that many hospitals rely on blood from family replacement donors and commercial donors.

 

“The World Health Organisation says that the safest blood comes from a voluntary blood donor and it’s very simple to understand why. Why is it safe for the voluntary blood donor? Because the voluntary blood donor has nothing to gain in donating blood.

“However, if I want to donate blood for my brother or sister, there are certain things that I would be asked, maybe during the filling out of the blood donor questionnaire, I may give false information.

“The reason is that I want to donate to my brother at all costs, right? Then, when you compare it with the commercial blood donors, of course, their primary gain is that they want to donate for cash,” she said.

Consequently, the Consultant Haematologist raised concern that if the current trend of hospitals relying on blood from commercial and family replacement donors continued, it could compromise the blood safety mandate.

For the WBDD, Korubo encouraged Nigerians to adopt and voluntarily donate blood to save lives.

She added that the opportunity of several blood drives on June 14 should be utilised by individuals who have never donated blood and are not regular blood donors.

“This year’s theme is Celebrating 20 years of giving: thank you, blood donors. So, the advice is, please come and donate blood. There are always patients in need of blood.

“If we can have only one per cent of our population donating blood voluntarily, it will go a long way. We’re not even asking for 10 per cent of the population. We’re a country of over 200 million people, if we have voluntary blood donors who regularly donate blood, it will go a long way in taking care of patients’ needs in the hospital.

“Don’t say, ‘Oh, I don’t have blood’. ‘Oh, no, it’s not for me’, ‘I can’t do it’, ‘Oh, I’m a woman, I can’t donate’. No, there’s nothing like that. Females can donate. The most important thing is that donor’s safety is always ensured,” Korubo assured.

 

 


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