The Nigerian Red Cross Society has urged youths and other age groups in the country to voluntarily donate blood to emergency victims at least once every three months.

Lagos State Branch Secretary of the society, Olakunle Lasisi, stated this on Monday while speaking with newsmen in commemoration of the World Blood Donor Day.

Lasisi joined other renowned health experts including National Coordinator of the National Blood Transfusion Service, Dr. Joseph Amedu; Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the International Society of Media in Public Health, Moji Makanjuola; and Founder, Action on Blood, Abiola Okubanjo; to discuss the need for more voluntary blood donors in Nigeria at the virtual event.

The theme of the programme was, ‘Why Nigeria needs more free blood donors’. According to the World Health Organisation, Nigeria needs at least two million units of blood every year based on its over 200 million population but only 500,000 units of blood are donated yearly, endangering the survival of patients in need of blood.

Many emergency victims in dire need of blood transfusion have died in the country due to inaccessibility to, and unavailability of compatible blood types.

Speaking on Monday, Lasisi, who said his group regularly organise the ‘Give Blood, Save Lives’ campaign, called on youths to freely donate more blood, noting that they don’t need to know the patients in need of blood transfusion before they extend the life-saving gesture to them. “The act is targeted at humanity,” he noted.

Continuing, the Red Cross official said, “We are paying serious attention, among other responsibilities of ours, to voluntary blood donation and we are very active when it comes to blood drive.

“Our major activity when it comes to blood drive is to sensitise people, to organise blood drive, and to encourage people to be part of it.

“In Red Cross, about 70 to 75 per cent of our membership are youths, we have members all over from primary schools, to secondary schools, up to tertiary institutions. We have the likes of MDs (Managing Directors), CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) as members, so, it is easier for us to penetrate.

“We encourage blood drive a lot because when you get yourself into it, especially with the Nigerian Red Cross being the mobiliser, you stand the opportunity of benefiting from the following because in Red Cross, we have a database and from the moment you are a blood donor, you are into our database.

“At the same time, it is easier for us when a donor needs blood at any time, it is easier for us to get that through our partner – our major partner in this exercise is the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service.”

“Red Cross has been doing the drive, especially on four occasions in a year because it is safer for a donor to donate four times in a year and that means you can donate every three months.

“Being a blood donor with the Red Cross, you equally have the opportunity to be given a Certificate of Appreciation to show that you are appreciated for what you have done to save lives, mostly to people you don’t know…If the public can do this, before we know it, the shortage of blood supply that we have will be overcome,” he added.