Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition characterised by sickle shaped red blood cells and chronic haemolytic anaemia. It can be explained as a genetic mutation with a single amino acid substitution in one of the chains of the haemoglobin molecule.
This condition claims a number of lives of children under 15 years confronted with a number of problems directly related to sickle cell among which are painful crises and in most cases anaemia, and in saving lives, blood has been of great help.
Blood transfusion is a widely practiced procedure in health profession with the sole aim of saving lives. There is no factory for blood and every human being needs it in order to survive. Trials of blood transfusions have always brought families think they have a future. For these one may go abroad outside his or her homeland and will not be surprised to see that its being done even in America and the other outside world. So globally, blood is a very important event for every working person, making it a pre-requisite for life.
In Atutur hospital in Uganda, we have a very big clinic handling over 1,000 patients set weekly every Tuesday. And from experience, many patients, about 5 every clinic day come with anaemia resulting from either hyperparasitemia or infection leading to hemolysis with resultant anaemia. These have ended up in transfusions with lives having been saved.
Many clients especially those coming from far tend to delay with patients at home or in the clinics and later on come when they are severely anaemic, these have always been subjected directly to blood transfusions, enough to explain that blood is important in saving lives.
In a hospital setting, it’s not amazing saying that blood is very necessary in savings lives of sickle patients because there is no alternative other blood transfusion for child who is in pain and has sickle cell anaemia.
A big number of patients from over 15 sub counties come to visit Atutur sickle cell clinic and on the basis, anaemia is common with many patients ending up in the ward for blood transfusions.
There is always an accreditation to the laboratory personnel for making sure that blood is readily available most especially at rare hours in the evening on receiving desperate patients whose attendants cannot raise money to facilitate themselves to another unit where a transfusion service is offered. In these situations, some lives have been lost in the process of referral and at the destiny where blood is available.
Blood transfusion a very necessary event should be taken paramount, otherwise if altered many lives would be lost. It’s for free not at any cost and is available to anyone in need. The sicklers often cripple the economic status of the family due to frequent visits to the hospitals. Therefore if it were for sale many lives for sicklers would have been lost because repeated visits to the hospital demoralises the parents and they begin wishing for death which blood has always combated when given to sickle cell anaemic patients
Usually, in our unit, patients are referred to Mbale RRH for transfusion in times of crises where there are shortages. This is because blood is frequently picked from the blood bank of Mbale as we don’t have sophisticated storage equipment in the unit. For these, some patients who are severely anaemic for sickle cell disease have either reached successfully or ended dying on the way as for the prolonged period for them to get blood transfusion.
If availability of blood in the setting where sickle cell patients is guaranteed, then those who go with anaemia can be corrected immediately and life ia saved. on assessment, sickle cell patients have a reduced haemoglobin level which keeps on dropping in their life time and need frequent blood transfusion to maintain the level of haemoglobin for them to grow well.
It’s from the above that an appreciation for blood in the treatment and management of sickle cell can be based as a requirement otherwise, without it life would not be saved.
Blood donation which is a sole supplier should be encouraged to every human being in the communities nationally especially adolescents and adults so that a regular supply is ensured, otherwise a deficit will mean many people dying especially sickle cell patients who are prone to anaemia which cannot be treated by giving water or drugs to save lives in case of emergency.
The screening system should be improved with technical skills related to blood transfusions to avoid errors in the screening, grouping and cross matching of blood which can call for death.