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Donors Say Their Blood Is Taken For Free 

By Vanini Anyiateh Atabong* — Blood donors in Fako Division have said that Government draws their blood for free. “They take our blood for free and sell, and when we are sick they don’t want to take care of us,” the donors said.

They were speaking Thursday, August 23, at the Buea Regional Hospital, during a meeting of the Cameroon Voluntary Blood Donors’ Association, Fako branch, which brought donors from Buea, Muyuka, Ekona, and Mile 14. The disgruntled blood donors, therefore, exhorted Government to make certain provisions to permit them stay healthy so that they can continue carrying out their life-saving activity.

The donors said they had reached an agreement with the former Director of Buea Regional Hospital Annex that blood donors and their family members should benefit from free consultation and laboratory tests, 25 percent reduction on medical bills and drugs at the hospital pharmacy. They, nevertheless, complained that, till now, nothing has been done. The donors said they are annoyed that Government does not give them any assistance, and that they do not get any benefit for what they do.

Simon Fonjock, a donor from Mile 14, said: “I started donating blood in 1991 and I had to stop in 2008 because of an illness, after donating twenty-six times. For all these years, I have had no benefit from Government and I am now sick and old, and I need to go to the hospital but I don’t have money.”

“I have donated blood about sixteen times now, but when I fall sick and go to the hospital for treatment, I do not get any favour. I am treated like any ordinary patient… The Government should ensure that donors have benefits in any hospital they go,” another donor said.  

The donors also complained that they are poorly fed during donation. They disclosed that, on the massive blood donation day on August 9, 2012, about twenty people turned up for the exercise, willing to donate blood but only 13 people ended up donating because the rest could not be fed.

“They give us tickets and when we go to the canteen those there will not want to attend to us and at the end some people don’t have food to eat,” one of them bemoaned. The donors decided that it is high time they controlled the blood they donate; know how many pints are donated and how the blood is used.

The Vice President of the Cameroon Voluntary Blood Donors’ Association, Chief Martin Lifanji, called on donors to be more organised and attend meetings so that they get assistance from the Minister of Public Health. According to him, because of poor attendance, they have been unable to go to higher heights. In spite of what they consider as poor treatment by Government, they said they were happy that they are saving lives.

Robert Joke Ernie said he started donating blood even before joining the donors association.
“I have been in this association for about a year. I started donating blood before joining the association and I was triggered to do it because of a case of a small child who had an accident and needed blood to survive.

I was in no way related to the child; I just chose to save her life as I witnessed the accident. That was the day I discovered from the doctors that I could donate my blood to save lives, because they told me my blood was pure. A doctor gave me a card and from there I began donating blood and the card helped me when my son was sick and I needed FCFA 840.000 to treat him. When I presented this card to the doctor in Douala, my bill was reduced to 216.000 FCFA,” Joke said.

Besides the Buea Regional Hospital, the Secretary General of the Cameroon Blood Donor Association for Fako Division, Paul Fellows Besong, said they also supply blood to the Haemodialysis Centre. On their plan of action, Besong said they have an arm of the branch at the University of Buea and they are thinking of going out of Buea to sensitise other parts of the Region.

How To Become A Blood Donor

Explaining the procedure for becoming a voluntary blood donor, Besong said prospective members of their association pay FCFA 500 for registration and are required to attend meetings regularly. During the donation of blood, donors are taken to the laboratory and screened. After the screening, he said, counselling is done, and after that a pint of blood is collected from each person. A donor can only donate again after three months.

*(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no 01369

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