THE National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has awarded top four milestone blood donors as a gesture of appreciating the selfless sacrifice by the individuals.
By Michael Gwarisa
Amongst the awardees are Mr Jillian Buss who has clocked 275 donations, Mr Leo Ngezimani the first African blood donor in Zimbabwe to attain 200 donations, Mr Edward Mwase 125 donations and Ms Sophie Mutandwa who has reached 25 donations in line with her Plegde 25 promise.
Speaking at the awards handover ceremony, NBSZ Board Chair, Advocate Rodgers Matsikidze said giving blood was the highest level of selflessness and donors deserve recognition as they play a critical life saving role in the health care service delivery system.
This is a very important occasion, i don’t even take it for granted, it is something that we cannot even put a prize tag on. The men and women we are here to honor and those whom we could not because of the COVID-19 restrictions were not forced by anyone to donate blood, they just heard the message that life is in the blood, they heard the message that someone out there needs a pint of blood, platelets and other products.
“No one forced them to do that for no reward, such is the sacrifice that is put in a blood donor’s effort to come and donate. They use their own resources such as fuel and much of their time to come and sit and wait patiently until that small pack is full of blood. That is not something that you can say its a small thing, in my own world, i view them as my own heroes,” said Mr Matsikidze.
He added that the blood from blood donors know no boundary and anyone can benefit should the need arise and during the course of 2020, they have been able to collect enough blood to give to all those who require blood.
“I have noted that we still have one or two challenges in terms of the distribution within some big hospitals there and we have engaged them because we don’t want people to die because they have failed to receive blood.
“We have got some concepts which we are trying to introduce and hope to get their cooperation and ensure that blood gets to each and every recipient who require it on time. Let me say to you our most precious blood donors, you are our heroes, 25 blood donations is not a joke, 125 donations is not a joke, 200 is a sacrifice, 275 i don’t even know what to call it.”
NBSZ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Lucy Marowa applauded the blood donors for sacrificing and saving lives at a time when the country was battling a global health pandemic, the COVID-19.
“There are times when as an organisation we have faced challenges, when we have failed to supply the precious product because of various challenges. Maybe we don’t have the tests kits, maybe we don’t have electricity, maybe the equipment has broken down, maybe the COVID-19 pandemic has forced restrictions such that the blood donors cannot move freely to come in and give a donation yet they so much want to give this donation but there will be so many challenges.
“I just wasn’t to put it on record that whenever the NBSZ fails to supply blood and blood products, it is not the problem of blood donors, people are always quick to say where are the donors? The challenges of NBSZ is not the donors, i think we have won the battle of telling people our story and of mobilisng the donor, we have bigger challenges than getting donors to come and donate blood. I do encourage you and me and to get our friends and families and encourage them to donate blood,” said Ms Marowa.
Meanwhile, speaking after receiving the his award, milestone blood donor, Mr Jillian Buss said he started his blood donation journey in 1975 and since then he has not looked back.
“Today i just received my 275th blood donation award and tomorrow i will be giving blood again. Yes i will continue donating blood as long as i live and as long as i can. I see 300 as a very easy target and i can get there. This is not a game but it is something i do and every month i am more than happy to do it.
“There are so many people in this country who could donate blood but maybe they just don’t realise that it doesn’t take that long to give blood. It is a simple process, if you are male you do it once every three months and if you are female you do it once every four months and you are going to be here for maybe half an hour. I say just do it and save people, its not just you but could be some stranger out there who require blood,” said Mr Buss.
For Mr Leo Ngezimani, his blood donation journey started as a game back in high school in 1982 when he and his friends just went to donate blood so that they could get a juice to down their packed plain bread during break-time.
“I started giving blood in 1982 during my school days as a joke not knowing that it was going to become a lifetime hobby. To date, i have donated 200 units of blood and my blood is safe i have never had an incidence where i was told my blood was unsafe or contaminated which means i have been saving a number of lives over the years,” he said.
Ms Sophie Mutandwa who is also the past president for the Pledge 25 said even though mots of the times she would be told that she was underweight, it did not deter her from giving blood, a hobby she has taken up since she was 16.
“At times i would be told that i was underweight and i couldn’t give blood. At times i would experience iron deficiency and would halt giving blood. But because i have always wanted to save lives, i never stopped because of these challenges, i would take some some diets just to ensure i don’t experience the deficiencies.
“I had pledged to donate at least 25 pints of blood before the age 30, it motivated me and kept me going, today i am happy because i have reached that milestone. I have honored my pledge and being the president of pledge 25 motivated me a lot, i wanted to be at the top and motivate the people whom i was leading. I am now targeting 50 donations, or 100 and probably 200 donations,” said Ms Mutandwa.