Country’s first ever online blood bank to check deficits

A Kenyan nonprofit organisation has launched a new Web portal Kunavijana.org to help patients across the country receive blood donation services within 24 hours.

The portal called Wanadamu, is a modern effective virtual blood bank that seeks to connect those in need of blood donations or donors, says Evans Muriu, the developer.

Wanadamu, Swahili word for ‘human beings’ but which means ‘we have blood,’ when the ‘wana’ and damu’ are separately interpreted, is an initiative of Kuna Vijana, a non-profit organization Muirui founded to empower the youth.

“We maintain a database of over 5,000 Kenyans since the initiative’s launch on July 4, 2011. As of 31st of March 2012, according to our statistics, we have responded to 156 appeals,” Muriu told HumanIPO.

According to Kenya national Blood transfusion services (KNBTS) estimates, the country needs 200,000 units of blood per year to deal with illnesses, surgeries, accidents and other medical conditions. The supply has however been as low as low as 40,000 units. Country’s blood requirement is estimated at 300,000 pints (450ml) per person to deal with the emergencies.

KNBTS says less than 10 percent of adults donate blood and hospitals and individuals have relied on school students in case of emergency. Wanadamu strives to create an alternative pool of donors.

Muriu says he was inspired by the high number of people who lose their lives because of lack of blood and difficulty in identifying the donors.

Wanadamu enables interested donors to register themselves and donate, says Muriu.

Volunteers sign up for free and provide their details including name, blood group, email address, mobile contact, alternative number, Facebook account and Twitter handles.

When a patient in a hospital is in need of blood, the Wanadamu team is informed. The team then searches through the database for candidates of the blood group required based on eligibility and location.

Once donors are identified, they are contacted asked to donate blood at the patient’s hospital.
Muriu says the volunteers’ details are accessible only to the authorized Wanadamu staff for security purposes.

“You might not understand the importance of Wanadamu but so many people have lost their lives because they couldn’t get blood when they needed it most. You may be undergoing surgery, giving, or even get involved in a road accident. Today it is so and so, tomorrow it may be you,” Muriu told HumanIPO.

The low-budget initiative is the first of its kind in Africa. Wanadamu provides the services free of charge and does not generate any revenue. A similar blood donation portal called Indianbloodbank.com was launched early this month in India. Pakistan has also started one called Pakblood.com currently boasting of 741 registered donors and 134 organisations.

Wanadamu hopes to expand to other countries in the region.

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