The Safe Blood Africa Project: Background

October 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

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By Amanda Baker, Communications Intern, Stanford Blood Center

This is part 1 of 3 in our series on the Safe Blood Africa Project

Communities around the globe require a safe and plentiful blood supply, and the need for blood transfusions affects patients worldwide. With this in mind, Stanford Blood Center, along with Sacramento’s BloodSource and Northern California Community Blood Center, is teaming up with the Safe Blood Africa Project to bring safe blood programs to Nigeria.

The Safe Blood Africa Project is an undertaking by the Rotary International World Community Service that aims to improve blood banking in Africa by establishing voluntary blood donation centers in places where blood is not available to patients in need. This involves bolstering blood facilities and training local personnel.

The project began when Warren Kaufman, former president of the Rotary Club of Carmel Valley, discovered the profound need for safe blood in Nigeria on a 2002 Group Study Exchange trip in Africa. Upon his return to the United States, Kaufman contacted representatives from four northern Californian blood centers and reached out to other Rotary Clubs for assistance in improving the blood banking system in Nigeria. Nigerian Rotary Clubs also contribute support coordinated by Edemekong Edemekong, a Superior Court Justice and Rotarian in Nigeria.

Among the first tasks of the project was addressing the lack of adequate blood storage. Collected blood needs to be kept cool to ensure it stays safe and effective for transfusion, but cold environments can be difficult to establish in areas with sweltering temperatures and where electricity can be intermittent. Thus, BloodSource and the Rotary Clubs of Redding and Eureka helped purchase refrigerators and generators to help keep blood cool even in the event of a power outage. Stanford Blood Center along with three other California blood centers (a group formerly known as Blood Innovations) also contributed funding to send blood center employees and Rotary representatives to Africa to deliver the much-needed medical equipment and provide training in laboratory procedures and medical administration.

Other partners in the Safe Blood Africa Project include Global Healing, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting health care reform and modern medical care to the developed world. A $150,000 grant from Global Healing has enabled employees at BloodSource to work alongside the Safe Blood Africa project through 2012, with an emphasis on training physicians, nurses, scientists, and recruiters.

Safe Blood Africa associates recently returned from a visit to Nigeria to deliver medical equipment and to train local health professionals in blood collection. Click here to read about their trip!