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Today, much of Africa lacks sources of safe blood for hospital patients in need of transfusions. Unfortunately, when blood is needed, most often it comes from a donor paid by the patient’s family, if one can be found with the proper blood type in time. This is due to the lack of blood storage facilities, either regional or hospital based, to enable the collection, testing and storage of blood and blood products in advance of their need. The use of paid donors, coupled with the “just in time” manner in which blood transfusions are carried out fosters an environment where deadly viruses, such as HIV (AIDS), hepatitis and other blood –borne diseases are often transmitted from blood donor to patient. Although the patient’s life may be saved with the transfused blood, disease may well claim his/her life in the future.

  • In areas where blood storage facilities, and thus volunteer donors, are not available, mortality from a statistical standpoint, breaks down like this:
  • For every 1000 patients requiring a blood transfusion, only around 40%, or 400 people, will receive a transfusion because of lack of available blood of the proper type.
  • One third of all patients who do not get blood when they need it, or 200 people, will die.
  • Of the 400 patients who are able to get a blood transfusion of the proper type, around 10% will later die of viral disease infection from the donor blood.

Thus, for every 1000 patients requiring a blood transfusion, around 240 people, mostly women in childbirth and children suffering from severe malaria-induced anemia, will die immediately from lack of available blood of the proper type, or later from viral infections transmitted through tainted donor blood.

Helping save lives in Africa with safe blood
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A 501(c)3 charitable organization sponsored by the Rotary Club of Carmel Valley, CA, USA District 5230
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Photos © CHRIS KAUFMAN 2007 Used With Permission