Issue - November 2008

November 2008

In this issue of the cocha-banner: Catriona Knox interviews Leonardo de la Torre about internal aspects of migrants in Bolivia; Perry King explores the practice of Yoga in Cochabamba city; Encouraging people to donate blood is the topic of Barbara Walter's article; finally more...

November 2008

The Red gold

Barbara Walter
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Sankt Augustin - Germany

“El Banco de Sangre de Cochabamba” needs more people to donate blood in order to save more lives

Who has never wanted to be a hero, to save a life, to rescue people from dying? Here is an easy way to save up to four people in thirty minutes without risking your own life by running into a burning house or jumping from a skyscraper.

Go to “El Banco de Sangre” de Cochabamba located on Calle Aurelio Meleán, take your ID Card and start your mission by filling out a paper with your personal data and your medical history. Be sure that nothing you reveal will ever be shown to anyone else other than one of the doctors. To make sure that you are fit enough to save four people a nurse will measure height, weight, pulse and blood pressure. Afterwards a doctor will talk with you about your medical history and ask you some more question. And then it is already time for the final and formative move of your mission.

All you have to do is to stretch out your arm, endure the slightly small prick of the needle into your skin and let 380 milliliters of the red gold you are carrying into your veins run into a glass container. Take some minutes afterwards to rest and enjoy the refreshments you are given by the staff as a thank you. Then you can continue your daily routine being happy and feeling proud that you have done something really good.

As your blood can be divided into four different components like red and white blood cells and two forms of plasma all needed by people with different diseases, one donation can really save four lives. Every two seconds someone needs blood somewhere in the world. Most blood is needed by people undergoing a surgery, people with cancer and women giving birth.

90 blood transfusions would be necessary in the department of Cochabamba to help everyone every day. If it is a good day at El Banco de Sangre and many people would like to do something good, about 85 will come in and donate blood. But the number varies every day and there is no stock if there was ever a bigger catastrophe happening in Cochabamba: “If a big accident involving many people happens, we are out of blood in five minutes”, states the director of El Banco de Sangre, Dr. Ricardo Villegas Nava.

Therefore, it is important that more and more people start to understand the necessity of donating blood voluntarily and not only if one of their family members or friends is sick. “Our goal is to raise the number of voluntary donations by 50 or 60% and minimize the number of familiar donations.” If more people donate blood, the hospitals will have greater stocks to cover a bigger demand if something happens.

When Dr. Ricardo Villegas started the center as a project in 1999 only by the help of volunteers and a sponsor from Belgium, it was the first of its kind in Bolivia. After El Banco de Sangre was opened officially in 2002 as a permanent institution it became a role model for blood centers not only in Bolivia but in whole South America.

Since then the people’s attitude towards blood donation have already changed a lot. They are more aware of the problem and “especially in Cochabamba the people are very sensitive about the problem”, applauds the director. When the center started people had many prejudices about donating blood and still do. The most common prejudices are that they will lose or gain weight or get infected with HIV or Hepatitis. Both of them are more than wrong.

Donating blood does not affect your weight at all if you are a healthy person. Furthermore, all centers work with sterile material and there is no chance you can get infected with something. It is the other way around, every time you donate blood, a small sample will be taken to make sure that you do not have any disease that can be transmitted by blood.

The safety rules concerning blood donations are really strict. No matter if you donate blood at the center or during a campaign in the main plaza, the blood will be screened for HIV, Hepatitis and syphilis. You cannot donate blood if you take medication and you have to be at least 1,50 m tall and weigh more than 50 kg. Women who have their period cannot donate blood at this time.

Men are allowed to donate blood every 3 months and women every 4 months. The centre in Cochabamba is one of the best in Bolivia due to its modern technology. But Dr. Villegas says that they would like to establish a center where not only blood but also tissue and organs can be donated as there is nothing like this in Bolivia. But there is no support and no money from the government to implement this project. He is hoping to find a sponsor in Europe and also to set up cooperation in order to exchange knowledge.

There is no artificial substitution for blood although many specialists have been working in order to find one, they have not succeeded yet. Therefore, donated blood remains a treasure for those who are in need. “When we started out, many women were dying while they were giving birth as there was simply no blood available especially in places like Chapare. There was only one African country whose situation was worse than the one in Bolivia. Today there are twenty African countries where the situation is worse than here”, relates Dr. Villegas. But there is still a long way to go as more centers like “El Banco de Sangre de Cochabamba” have to be established and more campaigns have to be undertaken to make the people aware of the good they are carrying in their veins. All countries in the world have to work together to exchange knowledge and even blood if a huge catastrophe happens in one country.

Right now 48 people work at the center in Cochabamba, only half of the staff gets paid by the government, the other half Dr. Nava has to provide. But as he underlined at the end of the interview the work is not only the work of the 48 people. It takes a lot more. There are people coming in from different hospitals to get the blood once a week, people working in laboratories to screen blood, people helping in campaigns but over all it takes the donors. Without their willingness to share their blood, nothing would work. Their willingness to help and to give blood without being rewarded with money or other material good is what other people’s lives depend on.

Although you will not be rewarded with money etc, you will be rewarded with the feeling of self-satisfaction which is often more worthy than money. So remember, you can never lose but only win if youdonate blood. And never forget there might be a day you will need blood and someone just like you will save your life because she decided to take 30 minutes and to do something good.

Cultural Agenda (November 2008)

Teatro Achá

Martes 4 miércoles 5
Concierto de Yalo Cuellar

Jueves 6 viernes 7
Presentación de Ballet
Sentimientos de mi Tierra...

Salón Gildaro Antezana

Exposiciones de los artistas

Lunes 10 al sábado22
Ramiro Baptista
Eddy Ortega
Johnny Serna,
Gonzalo Cardozo...

read more ...

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