Health

Blood: It’s only produced by humans, not factory

HEALTH DIALOGUE
Q. What is that red stuff that comes out from your skin when you cut yourself?
A. Blood.
Blood is a fluid that contains liquid and some solid microscopic particles. In human beings blood is made up of several different components that help to deliver oxygen, defence services and nutrients to various parts of the body.
Q. What are the different components of blood?
A. In human beings the blood is made up of: Red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma.
Q. Where is blood made?
A. The cells found in the fluid blood are produced in the bone marrow. The fluid is formed by the fluid found within the blood vessels and is mostly made up of water.
Q. Why is blood important?
A. Red blood cells: These specialised cells have the job of carrying oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body and carrying carbon dioxide from the tissues towards the lungs to be expelled from the body.
White blood cells: These are a family of cells that specialise in the defence of the body. There are several different types of white blood cells that all play different roles in the process of the defence of the body.
Platelets: These cells allow for “blood” to clot when there is injury to the body. Any defect or reduction of these cells may result in bleeding disorders.
Plasma: This liquid carries important nutrients to the various parts of the body as well as helps to move toxic substances away from organs towards the kidneys and liver that then help to eliminate them from the body.
Q. What are blood groups?
A. Currently there are 35 different ways to group blood types. The most commonly used grouping are the ABO and Rh (Rhesus) groupings.
ABO grouping: This grouping is based on antigens present  on the surface of the red blood cells (anti A and Anti B) the presence or absence of these antigens determines blood groups into either A, B, AB or O.
Rhesus (Rh) grouping: This grouping is based on the presence or absence of a protein on the surface of the red blood cells. If the protein is present, the group is referred to as Rh positive and if the protein is absent, it is referred to as Rh negative.
Q. What is anaemia?
A. Anaemia is a condition in which the levels of red blood cells are low. This leads to low oxygen supply to various parts of the body. If the situation is not corrected, it can lead to easy exhaustion, shortness of breath, muscle pains, headaches, blurred vision, light headedness and reduction in urine output.
Q. How can anaemia be treated?
A. If the anaemia is mild, it can be treated with oral medication to help encourage the body to produce a few more and better quality red blood cells. If the anaemia is severe and/or life threatening (actively bleeding large amounts of blood), it may be corrected by giving a blood transfusion. The amount of blood transfused would be dependant on the severity of the anaemia.
Q. Where does the blood that is transfused come from?
A. In Zambia, the Zambia National Blood Transfusion Services (ZNBTS) is responsible for collecting, testing, processing and distributing human blood products. The blood is donated by volunteers and taken to the various ZNBTS laboratories around the country, where it is processed.
Q. If I need a transfusion, how do I know the blood is safe?
A. The Zambia National Blood Transfusion Services (ZNBTS) has adopted very strict rules on who is allowed to give blood, several tests for various infections are performed on the blood before it is allowed to be given to any patient in form of whole blood or blood products.  ZNBTS has one of the highest standards for testing and storing blood products in the region.
Q. Who gives blood?
A. Any healthy human being between the ages of 16 and 65 may be a blood donor.
Q. Why should people give blood?
A. Blood is only produced by human beings and cannot be manufactured in a factory. In Zambia, the largest number of people in need of blood transfusions are children under the age of five years and women suffering from complications of pregnancy.
Q. How can I become a blood donor?
A. You can visit any blood bank at your local hospital and offer to donate blood.
For information on blood donation email: Bloodbank@zamnet.zm or 990health@champ.org.zm

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