Blood transfusions- my life line

My name is Lusubilo Gondwe am a female broadcast journalist and early educator . Am aged 39, and I live with a condition called sickle cell anemia. Am based in Lusaka- Zambia.

My sickle cell diagnosis was made when I was just six months old. My mother tells me, she thought I had malaria initially because one morning she noticed I had overslept and had to wake me up to feed me, after I threw up the entire meal and my body temperature increased my parents rushed me to hospital.  The doctor after ordering a full blood count and malaria test discovered I had haemoglobin count of two. I was quickly transfused and later upon further investigation I was discovered to have sickle cell anemia. That was the very first of my blood transfusions.

My health was very fine from then on until I reached the age of 31. One Friday, I developed a severe back ache and chest pain and had to be hospitalized, the doctor ordered numerous tests and it was discovered that my hb or haemoglobin count was at four, for some reason my body had adapted to low hb and had started compensating by working harder to pump blood around my body.

I was given two pints of blood, but had to receive another two when a just seven days later my hb had dropped to four again. The tests ordered after my transfusion revealed that l had developed a complication of heart failure and tricuspid regurgitation (one of my hearts valves had stopped working as well as it should) this meant my hb had to be maintained at steady levels and I also now take a new drug enalapril for life. Enalapril assists my heart not work too hard, however the challenge is maintaining my hb at steady levels, with steady being at least seven.

I have spent about six years in and out of hospital after every third month or so to receive blood. The highest number of blood pints I have received at a go was about three years ago when I had a haemolytic crisis ( this is when the spleen destroys red blood cells too rapidly and drops the hb very quickly). I was given four pints of blood at a go. My struggles with the frequent need for blood have caused me to have a deep appreciation for blood transfusions and blood donors it has been an emotionally taxing period for me and my family.However,their support and the support of blood bank staff and haematologists have helped me endure countless procedures and hospital stays, needing blood so frequently to survive makes one appreciate how vital blood transfusions are as they have literally been my life line for a while . I have experienced how instantly blood transfusions restore energy and bring about a feeling of wellness.

I also have much gratitude for people running social media groups that discuss sickle cell disease because they provide a vital source of information and knowledge sharing as well as encouragement on coping with complications that arise from living with sickle cell anemia,this is because
Zambian adults living with sickle cell anemia have very little knowledge and access to information about complications that may arise as a result of their condition and how to deal with them. It is also a challenge to find blood in blood banks for varied reasons ,so it is from these online platforms that I have learnt about proper nutrition and some natural ways of avoiding the need for too many medications and boosting my haemoglobin levels naturally.
The need for blood transfusions however remains critically vital and its important to have more blood donors come on board and donate blood ,there is infact a great need in this area,because in times of an emergency-blood transfusions can make all the difference between life and death.

Key Entry Rules

  1. You must be someone with Sickle Cell Disease or have some strong connection with SCD through kinship, friendship or caring responsibility.
  2. Your story – which must be true and should include some aspect of the importance of blood in the narrative – must be between 200–2,000 words.
  3. We expect most entries to come from Africa, but where you live is less important than the story you have to share.
  4. Stories must be submitted by the contest deadline of 30 September 2016.
  5. Photographs and other media can be included and are very much encouraged.
  6. First, second and third place winners will be awarded a monetary prize of $500/$350/$250 respectively. There will also be two special $125 prizes for standout young contestant (under 16) and standout health care professional, if not represented among the overall winners.

Story Criteria

Contest Rules

Past Winners