KTTA’s Valentine’s Day blood donation drive targets 25,000 units

To mark this year’s Valentine’s Day, the Kenya Tissue and Transplant Authority organized a national blood donation drive, with the formal launch held at Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Juja, Kiambu County.

The Valentine Blood Donation Drive campaign started on Saturday February 11, 2023 and runs until Sunday February 19, 2023 across the country.

Through the blood donation drive, being conducted under the theme “Show your Love, Save a Life,” the Kenya Tissue and Transplant Authority (KTTA) targets to collect 25,000 units of blood which will be processed and stored for future use by patients in various health centres in the country.

Speaking while launching the #ShowYourLoveSaveaLife blood donation campaign at JKUAT, the Dr Elias Maina Mbuthia, the CECM for Health, Kiambu County, said that KTTA, being the successor to the Department of the National Blood Transfusion, Tissue and Human Organ Transplant Services, is required to ensure the safety, biosafety and wellbeing of donors and recipients in medical services relating to human derived medical products through the establishment and maintenance of systems that comply with safety and legal requirements.

Dr Mbuthia said: “The authority will be tasked with regulating all services relating to human cells, tissue and organ transplant in accordance with the Health Act, 2017, register and license facilities and establishments dealing with human cells, tissues and organs and transplant services, maintain a registry of transplant service providers, donors and recipients as well as establish an equitable mechanism for matching and allocation of cells, tissue and organs.”

In addition to mobilizing the public to come forward and donate blood, the week-long campaign is also aimed increasing public awareness on the importance of donating blood.

The blood donation drive targets young adults aged between 18 to 35 years, one of the reasons, which informed the decision to pick Kenyatta University as the launch venue because of the student population at the institution.

Dr Rebecca Kiptui, the CEO at the KTTA, said that in recognition of the centrality of blood to universal health coverage (UHC) success and in implementation of the Health Act 2019, the mandate of the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service was expanded to include Tissue and Human Organs, leading to the establishment of the Kenya Tissue and Transplant Authority (KTTA).

Dr Kiptui said: “The Authority intends to build a blood donation culture to attain a perpetual annual collection of 1 million units to safeguard gains made in UHC. Availability of blood will impact maternal survival, reduce waiting times for Kenyans on dialysis and chemotherapy treatment and reduce mortality from trauma. Kenyans living with blood and bleeding disorders will have an improved quality of life.”

After the launch in Kiambu at JKUAT, other blood donation activities are scheduled for Embu College in Embu County, Standard Chartered Car Park in Nakuru Town in Nakuru County, Eldoret Regional Blood Transfusion Centre (RBTC) in Uasin Gishu County, and Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu Town, Kisumu County.

The crucial role of blood in the country’s healthcare services system can’t be understated. All surgeries in the country require blood availability, without which waiting times for surgeries increase and health outcomes of Kenyans are compromised.

Worth noting is that blood unavailability leads to increased mortalities. Statistics indicate that 35% (2,700) of 6,500 maternal deaths in 2020 were attributed to bleeding complications while 30% of deaths arising from road traffic accidents (6,938) were a result of bleeding complications in 2020.

Again, chronically ill patients suffering from cancer, kidney and other organ failures require regular transfusions during chemotherapy, dialysis or surgery. Access to blood reduces hospitalization periods. With increased prevalence of chronic diseases in the country, there has been increased need for blood.

Last year, Kenya collected 348,715 pints of blood, being 70% of the targeted total of 500,000 pints and the highest collection since independence. This is a 200% increase from the year 2020. This year, KTTA and its other partner organisations aim to collect 1 million pints which is the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) target.

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