Ms Aisha Mukami Dafalla, Kenyan blood ambassador, has embarked on a campaign to mobilize the public on the need to make regular blood donations to save lives. Dafalla, the 58-years-old, from Kibera, Nairobi, started donating blood at an early age of 17.
She has so far donated blood 69 times driven by a passion to save life regardless of relationship, distance, race and religion. Dafalla says donating blood motivates every moment of her life.
Ms Dafalla is spearheading a programme to mobilize at least 100,000 Kenyans to be regular blood donors for the country to attain a sustainable supply of safe and adequate blood in hospitals. She will be working with the Ministries of Tourism and Devolution as well as corporates in this drive.
The blood ambassador says blood donation is a key step in saving lives, noting that many lives are lost every day in hospitals through lack of the precious commodity. She founded Blood Donor Champion Network in 2021 to spearhead the campaign.
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According to Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service, seven people in the country require blood every 10 minutes. One pint of blood can save up to three or four people while three tea spoonful of blood can save a newborn’s life.
Anyone aged between 16 and 65 years and weighing at least 50kgs is eligible to donate blood. “Make an effort of donating even if it is twice or once a year, to save someone’s life today because tomorrow is not guaranteed,” Ms Dafalla says.
She first donated blood while in high school, though she confesses she didn’t know the importance of the exercise: she did in exchange for food (bread and soda)!
“I was in form three,” she recalls. “St Johns Ambulance had visited our school for blood donation and they were giving out bread and soda and I think it is the snack that motivated me before I developed a passion for saving others. My parents were against it, because they did not know how important it was so I had to put a break to the exercise for five years until I moved out of my parents’ house.”
Ms Dafalla has scooped many awards for her selfless contribution. The Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Health appointed her as the Kenyan blood ambassador for January 2021 to December 2022. During Mashujaa Day celebrations in 2020, she was recognized as a heroine, being the highest female blood donor.
She has also been awarded a certificate of recognition by the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage for her work of saving and changing lives.
In 2019, Ms Dafalla toured Rwanda on World Blood Donor Day, held yearly on 14th June, and was surprised to see blood on shelves waiting for patients unlike in Kenya where patients often wait for blood.
“I had a target of donating 70 times and I believe I’m going to hit my target, and I can still continue donating like twice a year since I’m not yet over the age limit,’’ she says.
[ By Jacob Rotich and Ondere Veronica ]
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