Bloodworks Beyond Borders: Like Water, So Is Blood

This month, join Bloodworks Global Health Ambassador Susan Peck on an eye-opening journey through East Africa with the Bloodworks Center for Global Impact. Susan is a dedicated blood donor and a former Bloodworks Board of Trustees member—read her first and second travel logs. 

By: Susan Peck

“Water is life, we live because of it. Like water, so is blood…”

-Tanzanian Taxi Driver

Bloodworks and Moi University colleagues with Bungoma County health leaders. 

We had plenty of rain while in Tanzania and Kenya. According to the local game lodge, there was more rain in June than has ever been recorded in a single month.  As a result, there’s a lush quality to this land. The people here are resourceful and at times ingenious as they put everything they have to good use, making life viable and sustainable. Blood is life, and access to safe blood is absolutely vital to survival in the towns and settlements we visited.

The need is palpable and makes it clear that Bloodpak – a portable emergency blood transfusion method developed by Bloodworks that enables arm-to arm blood transfusions – can be a game-changer for these communities. This is why we’re here. As the team introduced Bloodpak throughout Kenya at the national, regional, and organization levels, the many advantages of implementing this option became starkly evident to me.

Mothers should not be dying while giving life, just as doctors should not ever find themselves watching a patient bleed out because of a lack of safe blood… yet it happens here all too frequently. Some doctors we spoke with have even made the extreme last-ditch decision to transfuse their own blood in the hope of saving a life in an emergency situation. The tragic irony of this selfless act is that there are safe blood sources within reach if you just have the right tools.

Learning from the experts at Regional Blood Transfusion Service in Eldoret.

With Bloodpak, Bloodworks is on the verge of making safe, reliable, relatively inexpensive arm-to-arm blood transfusion a reality. Governmental leadership, doctors, nurses and blood specialists are pleading and ready for this help. The Bloodworks team is energized and hopeful in its efforts to lay the preliminary groundwork for a protocol that can hopefully lead to establishing Bloodpak programs where the needs are greatest.

Arm-to-arm transfusions can and will save lives in these remote locales and in extreme circumstances. The portable Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED) has saved countless lives over the past 40 years in cardiac arrest emergencies – an excellent metaphor for the portable, reliable, ingenuity of the Bloodpak technology.

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