My Harrison Kiarie during interview with Business Today Photo/Kevin Namunwa

At 50 years of age, Mr Harrison Kiarie has donated b***d 31 times and does not plan on stopping anytime soon. The insurance sales executive first donated b***d in February 1986 while studying at Kirangari High School in Kiambu County and turned it into a habit.

“I was very anxious before I donated my b***d as I had never seen my b***d in a plastic bag, but the R*******s crew were very reassuring and I got through the whole process,” he told Business Today in an interview.

However, seeing the deoxygenated b***d which is dark red in colour shocked him as he expected to see the plastic bag painted red. In 2010, Mr Kiarie pledged to be a regular donor , giving out b***d four times in a year as per the set health standards.

Since then, nine years down the line, he has kept his word and visits b***d donation centres. “If I happen to pass by tents set up by the Kenya National B***d Transfusion Service or R*******s, I sign up and donate my b***d. It is always a pleasure,” he adds.

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His b***d type, B+ (positive) is important in maintaining the b***d supply and critical in saving the lives of patients in the community. The frequent visits to b***d centres in Nakuru County has made him a popular face among the staff who call on him whenever there’s a b***d shortage or passing around.

“I have been contacted severally to donate b***d. I recall one i******t where a patient in Laikipia needed b***d transfusion and I was asked to visit the b***d centre to donate. Since I was in the period where I could donate b***d I hurriedly did so,” says Mr Kiarie.

The reality that he has saved many lives, whom he may never meet in life, through b***d transfusion gives him satisfaction.

Mr Kiarie has further instilled the importance of b***d donating into his children who are on the way to follow their father footsteps. “They are very eager since we keep having this conversation with them and once they are eligible to start. I am sure they will become regular donors,” he chuckles.

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However, the regular b***d donor is not impressed by procedures set in the country in b***d transfusion across health centres. “It is my appeal to the government to ensure that donating b***d is a culture that is nurtured among the young generation. This way we can ensure that the b***d bank does not run low on the supply,” says Mr Kiarie.

He further urges the KNBTS and R*******s to stop giving people sodas after donating b***d since they are not healthy drinks. “The Ministry of Health (MoH) should digitize the records of b***d donors to ensure that in case a b***d donor is admitted for a b***d transfusion he/she gets the b***d without much hustle. This will encourage many people and their families to donate b***d when they are fit,” adds Mr Kiarie.

The cheerful insurance salesperson urges the young and the old to donate b***d as many times as they can since b***d is a vital fluid in the health of people.

“Don’t be afraid to go donate b***d. There is no pain, just a little pinch of the needle and the staff are always very friendly, reassuring and they will answer all your questions politely. Additionally, you will feel good that your b***d is going to help a s**k person somewhere,” he says.

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World B***d Donor Day is celebrated across the globe on 14th June every year to raise awareness of the need for safe b***d and b***d products and to thank b***d donors for their life-saving gifts of b***d.

Every 10 minutes about seven Kenyans need b***d with over 200,000 recipients yearly. Per annum 164,275 pints of b***d is collected country wide and over 500,000 b***d needed for transfusion.

With 27 b***d donation centres across the country, b***d group O+, which is universal donor is received more with b***d group AB- being the rarest.

“B***d is an important resource, both for planned treatments and urgent interventions. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures,” states World Health Organisation (WHO).

“A b***d service that gives patients access to safe b***d and b***d products in sufficient quantity is a key component of an effective health system. Ensuring safe and sufficient b***d supplies requires the development of a nationally coordinated b***d transfusion service based on voluntary non-remunerated b***d donations,” adds WHO.

Many countries across the globe b***d services face the challenge of making sufficient b***d available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.

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