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He Need Blood Transfusion, But We Don’t Donate Blood

June 13th 2011- Women eNews Kenya had a date with Meshack, a Jehovah Witness faithful, he tells us why their religion prohibit donating or receiving blood, preferring long or costly medical process to save a life.

We then spoke to Harun, An Akorino Faithful who says they no longer subscribe to their old beliefs on Blood donation

And lastly we listened to Lawrence, a group O Positive young beneficiary who, since 2007, continue seeking blood donors

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He Need Blood Transfusion, But We Don’t Donate Blood

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The Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service KNBTS says national blood banks are experiencing a serious short fall, the country requires about 200,000 units of blood per year but beliefs and customs have kept donors away.

Willing donors find it exhausting locating a blood collection point, another challenge is having Kenyan know their blood group, a key factor in blood donation process.

As the world marks world Blood Donors Day on June 14 2011, Women eNews Kenya sought to understand reasons why many people are not donating blood, our focus was on religion and as we found out, so strong is the religious belief that some faithfuls would rather their own die than break the rules that govern their faith.

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Meshack - Identity Withheld

MESHACK – Under no circumstances do they allow blood to be transfused from a human body for purpose of saving a life or any other intention.

Women eNews Kenya caught up with Meshack, a Jehovah Witness faithful, he says their religion disapproves donating or receiving blood, preferring extensive or expensive medical procedure instead.

He says other means of saving a life should be used but not through blood transfusion which he says is ungodly and not recognized in the bible

Meshack who is in his late 30s and preferred not to have his photo taken says, the only situation where they allow doctors to come into contact with their member’s blood is during testing

He says a Jehovah Witness faithful will only consent to his blood being used for testing purposes to determine diseases or any other illness.

“It is this belief that has put many medical practitioners in a dilemma even when the only remaining option to save a life is through blood transfusion” says Dr Rex Mpazanje World Health Organisation country representative.

“We further forbid having our own blood stored for future transfusion” says Meshack

Asked if Jehovah Witness faithfuls would allow one of their own to die in a situation where their member has tried all other means without success and the only remaining option to save a life is through blood transfusion, Meshack says only Jehovah can answer that question.

We asked Meshack to quote for us the section in the bible he says forbid blood transfusion and he gave us American Standard Version, Genesis 9:4 which says –   But fresh with life thereof, which is the blood thereof shall ye not eat

He also gave us the English Standard Version, Acts 15:29 which says that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourself from these you will do well. farewell

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Harun subscribes to Akorino faith

HARUNHarun subscribes to Akorino faith, he tell us how in the past they abstained from donating or receiving blood.

He says in the previous years, Akorino faithfuls were not at ease donating or receiving blood, so strong were their beliefs that they did not even seek treatment in hospitals but as he narrates that has since changed.

“We freely embrace the modern life, our children are working in offices, hospitals, they are living a modern life in a modern world” says Harun, an elderly man in his 50s

Harun however says matters surrounding blood, human or animal is still not welcome in the Akorino church, for instance, they do not eat Mitura, also known as “African Sausage that contains meat and animal blood

He says through Akorino faithfuls now donate and receive blood, they have reservations on issues surrounding blood whether human or animal.

“We do not eat meat from a strangled animal or animal blood” he says

Harun, says they have scrapped set of laws in their religion that barred members from donating or receiving blood adding that they now take their children to hospitals for treatment and where need arise to donate or receive blood, they readily accept.

“We are moving along with the modern life, the world is developing technologically and we want to be part of the change in the world” he says.

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Lawrence is a group O Positive Beneficiary

LAWRENCE has lost counts of the number of times he has had blood transfusion, on the day we conducted this interview, Lawrence had just had a blood transfusion exercise at Mater hospital in Nairobi

“All I can remember is this is my 5th year since I had my first blood transfusion” he says

“I continue depending on donors like you to help me be alive” he starts as the interview gathers momentum

A rather confident young man, Lawrence takes Women eNews Kenya through his struggle with anemia, how it all started followed by countless hospital visits, many encounters with doctors and his experience surviving on blood donated by people he will never meet.

“I would not be here with you were it not for all those who have responded to my call to donate blood” he goes on.

“It was one morning in 2007 when as usual I was on my way to the fetch water for my grand father’s cows, but on this day, I felt rather tired, the pathway to the river was slightly sloppy, meaning, I did not need much energy to get down the river” he says.

“By the time i reached downhill, i was breathing heavily, sweating yet it was around 8 am in the morning a time you would not expect even a stroll to make you sweat” he narrates

“Back home, Babu (Grandfather) reprimanded me for overstaying, Babu was a tough gentleman, he thought I was playing tricks on him trying to avoid home chores” Lawrence explains

“I explained to him how I was feeling, later that night I had an incessant problem taking the right position to sleep, I would feel like I was applying weight on side of my body” says Lawrence

“My heartbeat was loud I would feel it in my ears” he says “when I could not withstand the pain, I called up my mom and told him about my condition, that was August 2007, the endless journey to the hospital began, at first, I was taken to a hospital in Machakos, here, doctors said I was anemic, they also discovered that my heart beat was critically low”.

“December 2007, I was at Kenyatta National Hospital, doctors here suggested bone marrow test”, a painful test he remembers

Initially doctors at the Kenyatta National Hospital misplaced my bone marrow test results and I had to go through a second painful test, January 2008 when I went back for results, doctors said I had aplastic anemia at around the same time, my blood level was dangerously low yet I was able to take a leisure walk around, this surprised doctors familiar with capability levels of an anemic patient.

“My condition appeared to put doctors in a puzzle since my blood was in dangerous level that would require confinement. On that day i had a blood transfusion and was given drugs” he says

I was to use the drugs until July of the same year but the drugs were not helping and I had to go for transfusion, this was after I had taken the drugs for three weeks, the transfusion interval of 2 weeks was later to follow..

One day at Kenyatta National Hospital, doctors transferred me to Aga Khan Hospital, here they recommended bone marrow transplant but the procedure was not available in Kenya, I was given an option of taking a drug which would limit the number of times I sought blood transfusion service.

Today, Lawrence continue to depend on Drugs and blood transfusion after every two months, Dr Odour of the National Blood Transfusion Service NBTS says Lawrence’s life has been dependent on blood donors since getting a bone marrow transplant is beyond his financial reach.

Dr Odoul says cultural and religious beliefs are the greatest dilemma adding that issues raised by Meshack and Harun would need evaluation with an understanding that blood transfusion is a life saving process.

Dr Odour emphasizes that blood donated is tested to ensure those receiving blood are not infected in any way.

By Ngigi Kamau, Women eNews Kenya Correspondent

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5 Responses

  1. which are the most accessible blood donation centers in Nairobi?i am organizing to take part in the exercise with my scout group members.We are based in Ngong.Are there any requirements? if any,please advice.

  2. Thank You Joseph, it takes small groups and individual effort like yours to save a life, remember you and your scout team is giving someone another chance, your are all saving a life by donating a pint of blood. It is safe and it saves.
    Please travel to the City Centre, right outside Nakumatt City Hall Hope WorldWide have a tent for blood donation.
    Nakumatt City Hall is opposite City Hall adjacent to Nairobi High Courts.
    am making calls to Kenya National Blood Transfusion service officials who wiil include more details on where in Ngong people can donate blood.
    Cheers

  3. Thank you for your kind gesture and willingness to save lives by donating blood. I would advice you and the scout group to visit the Nairobi Blood Transfusion Center within the Kenyatta hospital compound next to the KNH police station. If you feel that the group is large then we can arrange to have a blood collection team visit your organization on appointment. For further details please email me timodongo@yahoo.co.uk

  4. Thank You Tim, i will share this story once again in the social network so as to reach many people.

  5. Thank You Tim, i will share this story once again in the social network so as to reach many people. To Joseph, please get in touch with Mukuria of Bloodlife Initiative, his number is 0722 706 546, he says they can organize to come to Ngong, please talk to him

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