HEROES come in different packages. Some come wielding lethal shiny semi-automatic AK47 rifles and whatever latest weaponry that may be at their disposal. For some, all it takes is just a few minutes of their time and a little prick from a needle to save many lives through donating the precious liquid of blood.
By Michael Gwarisa
For Nobuhle Magava(45), her experience giving birth to her first child was her Damascene moment, an epiphany that made her change her perception about giving blood for the rest of her life. After severe hemorrhaging while giving birth, Nobuhle felt her body slowly giving up and life fading away like a candle in the wind. She was certain her soul was about to meet her maker.
It was in 1999 after I gave birth to my first child, immediately after giving birth, I started losing a lot of blood and in the end I had to have a transfusion.
“My hemorrhaging was very severe, I think I had to be transfused for two or so days, it was eight pints of blood, almost an equivalent to the amount of blood in the human body. Besides the blood itself, I also was transfused other blood components such as Plasma, platelets and other components. The situation was bad, my life was slowly sleeping way from me,” said Nobuhle.
Up to today, she says she still wonders what would have happened had she failed to find a blood type match or had she not received a blood transfusion.
“Having received that blood and being stabilised, I began my road to recovery and when I had fully recovered after a couple of days, I began to think about it that what would have happened if that blood was not available and specifically what would have happened if my blood type was not available.
“Even my gynecologist at the time was worried and thought that I was going to pass on because of that situation.”
Before her labour encounter Nobuhle had her fears and misconceptions about giving and receiving blood and even after successfully receiving blood and surviving a near death experience, society never stopped reminding her of these myths and tried as much and they could to convince her not to donate blood.
“As time went by, I was getting people saying to me receiving somebody’s blood was not ok. “Won’t you get demons, are you not going to be possessed, are you not going to pick up the person’s personality” they would say.
“In the beginning, this really got to me and I was getting unsure about the whole situation and as time went by, I noticed that nothing changed, I was the same Nobuhle and my personality was the same. If I had not received that blood, I was probably going to end up dead or have several health complications for life.”
Nobuhle is now in her 20th blood donation and she says she is aiming to donate as long as she is alive and as long as her body and health permits.
“I am here, I am a testimony, nothing has ever happened to me and I am going stronger. I think it’s now my 20th blood donation and I am going to continue and I am not going to stop so that other recipients can also turn from being recipients into becoming blood donors so that we keep this thing going and everybody who deserves to benefit, does benefit.
“If you are out there and you don’t give blood because of the myths and misconceptions you may have, let me let you know that whoever you are today, you will be that person even after giving blood,” said Nobuhle.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), bleeding or hemorrhaging is the leading cause of maternal deaths in Zimbabwe. The country records a total of 2 400 maternal deaths every year and majority of these are due hemorrhaging.