Storage bag being filled with just donated blood, NHS National Blood Service collection centre (Photo by Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The general public is often advised to voluntarily donate blood since it is an act of solidarity that saves lives.

Contrary to claims that ‘blood donation costs nothing”, blood donation has cost people a lot in Ghana.

On the February 16, 2022 edition of the Super Morning Show, ardent listeners of Joy FM shared chilling accounts of how they have lost their loved ones because they were unable to obtain blood to save them.

They attributed this to various demands made by doctors before issuing the blood.

Regular blood donors complained of being neglected when they were genuinely and urgently in need of blood to save the lives of their relatives.

Emmanuel, one of the callers, recounted a chilling event of how he lost his first son due to this.

“I remember vividly in 2008, at the 37 Military Hospital when my wife was about to deliver. Unfortunately, she was very anaemic and had to undergo a caesarian section.

“I’m a blood donor. These people [the doctors] said ‘no’ even when I showed my card to them. So I offered myself a replacement, but this didn’t work. [Eventually], I lost my first son. Since then, I vowed never to donate blood again,” he said.

Another caller, Nana K, said he had given up on donating blood for a similar reason – he was denied blood when he urgently needed it to save a life.

“I used to be a regular donor until when friends and loved ones fell ill and needed blood but were denied. Then, I was called again to come and donate blood as a replacement. Since then, I vowed never to donate again,” he said.

Others also disclosed that they were made to pay before voluntarily donating blood. For example, Rukaya shared a story of her brother: “I have a brother. There was a time he called and said he was going to donate blood and that he was made to pay a fee for voluntarily donating the blood,” he said.

All these disclosures were made following a JoyNews exposé on how a National Blood syndicate sells blood at exorbitant prices.

The JoyNews’ and Corruption Watch investigation uncovered the illegal collection of fees for blood supply by a syndicate operating within the National Blood Service at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the Greater Accra Regional Blood Bank.

At the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, a staff collected GH¢300 for a pint of blood while the syndicate leader operating within the National Blood Service at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital demanded GH¢750 for a pint of blood.

Akua (not her real name) also disclosed that a doctor compelled her to sleep with him in exchange for blood to save her mum.

This incident, according to her, happened in 2016 when her mum was ill and urgently needed to undergo surgery.

“When my mum was due for surgery, I needed about 10 pints of blood, but we were able to get six. One doctor asked me to sleep with him before he adds the rest for my mum,” she shared with host, Kojo Yankson, on the Super Morning Show, Wednesday.

“Meanwhile, I have been donating blood; I have the card – he [the doctor] told me that made no difference,” she said.

Left with no other option, a desperate Akua, who badly wanted to save her mum, eventually gave in to the demand and slept with the doctor. But three days later, her mum died.

“He slept with me on Thursday, and my mum died on Sunday,” she said. “It’s something I curse him with every day,” she added.

Speaking on this development, the CEO of the National Blood Service, Dr Ansah, outrightly condemned the act. She emphasised that patients are not supposed to make payments exceeding GH₵150 for blood.

Though she acknowledged that this has been happening in many hospitals, she said her outfit is working tirelessly to ensure the situation is brought under control.

“We’re assuring that together with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and other regulatory bodies; we are putting all the measures in place to ensure that the system is regulated. We’ve put together an Inter-agency Committee, and they came out with many recommendations.