The U.S. Government and the National Blood Bank Services Collaborate on Blood Drive

Ambassador Haslach donating blood
Ambassador Haslach donating blood.

On January 23, the United States Embassy and the National Blood Bank Services (former Red Cross) held its 8th annual blood drive. A total of 58 units of blood were collected with the help of 63 volunteers.  An estimated 174 people can be helped by the donation campaign because one unit of blood can potentially save three lives.

The National Blood Bank Services (NBBS) has been the only supplier of blood products for Ethiopia since 1962. Unfortunately, every year it falls short of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for the amount of donations needed to support demand (an estimated 100,000 to 150,00 units). The NBBS has a central blood bank in Addis Ababa and several regional facilities throughout the country. They hold annual blood donation campaigns at about 200 different sites in Ethiopia. Currently they mostly rely on replacement donations with about 30% coming from voluntary donations. With the help of WHO and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), emphasis has been given to the promotion to move towards 100% voluntary donations.

Blood and blood products are used for the treatment of several diseases including anemia, hemophilia, thalassemia, and hemolytic diseases of the newborn. They are also needed in situations that cause severe blood loss like patients undergoing surgery or victims of traumatic car accidents.