Monday, September 24, 2007

Bloody Monday

Just a few weeks ago, Bose, who's a doctor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), sent e-mail around to her friends, asking for blood donors because Nigerian hospitals have a severe shortage. I blogged about the need and forgot about it for a while until four or five days ago when someone dear to me called to say her mother was in hospital. The issue again, blood.

So after rehearsals on saturday, I went with four members of the cast to LUTH. It was time to give blood. We sat waiting outside the donation point where someone pointed out baba eje (The Blood Father)to us. Baba eje makes a living at LUTH from getting blood touts to come sell blood to those in need. Blood Touts? A large sign outside the room read, "No blood Touts allowed" meaning it is a recognized profession, even if illegal. Some of the touts I saw and who were chased away by the lab attendants, looked as if they were in need of blood themselves. Baba Eje would collect N4000 from desperate families and get some lean and hungry fellow come give his life-force. The giver would be given N500 or so. The level of poverty in some classes in Nigeria needs to be revisited by our government.

When it was my turn, the female lab attendant jabbed my finger and let the blood from the pin-prick drop into a solution to see if my blood was suitable. It was and I was made to climb a high couch after which she began to look for a vein she could take the pint of blood from.

Now to laspapi's anatomy: I've never had the knotted, raised veins a lot of males have. Yes, there are veins visible on the back of my hands like everyone else's, but my forearm and all don't have a maze of raised veins like we see sometimes. (Here's where you take a quick look at your own arms).

She searched, poked, tapped, and then proceeded to jab her needle with the blood bag attached into my arm in 3 different places. No blood flowed. As an aside, even though I have donated blood 3ce or so over the years, I hate pain, am not into sado-masochism and don't derive pleasure from being used as a needle cushion. Anyway, after a wait of more than one and half hours with no blood flowing, I left. My cast members teased me saying the lab tech had a crush on me and had deliberately kept me behind till everyone else had left.

Monday Morning, I reported there with my friends, Kenneth Uphopho and Iyanu. They wouldn't let Iyanu give blood, something to do with her just having concluded her monthly cycle but I was made to return to my high couch. This time, three other females (lab technicians) inspected my arms closely, commenting on their smoothness.

I played macho, "I might not have veins but I lift weights daily" (which is true). I knew a little of how Jesus must have felt because I was tempted (from the fear of needles) to jump off the cross of blood donations. "Let this cup pass away from me", I thought. I was still contemplating fleeing the room, knowing I couldn't take saturday's experimentation again, when a male supervisor entered the room. He wasn't impressed by my "smooth" skin. With a yank of my hand, he asked, "What do you mean you cant find veins? Isn't this a vein? Isn't this another?" And in one swift motion, there was a needle embedded in my arm. The blood flowed.

It's beautiful to lift ourselves above the mess life can be sometimes; to do something noble, something worthy. So, give blood donations a thought, brother must help brother. The blood you give may save a life.


Atinuke A. said...

I have some interesting stories about needles.

Had so many blood tests that there is a vein on my left arm that is nice and green and visible...except they sometimes insist on taking from the right arm. I wonder what difference it makes.

Tried giving blood in the States.
They said I was too contaminated (some nonsense about Malaria and Mad Cow Disease exposure)
I was rather upset about it.
But giving blood here scares me.
Heard so many horror stories of needles and infected blood....

This may actually be the encouragement I need.

Ms. Catwalq said...

the male attendant was pissed jare. u were encroaching on his macking territory...Laspai, laspai, many times did I call u?
smooth arms ko, biceps ni

In other news, I am an organ donor. My mum was not impressed that I had signed up to donate my organs in the event that something happens to me and "I no longer need them".
My aunt even said something like how she wanted to be complete when the trumpet can imagine how that sounded to my ears; not being christian and all. I would like to think that someone else can be given a chance at a better life even if I can't. In that, i guess I have served one of God's children and in so doing have served Him.
so the long and short of this is "Good Job"

Naijadude said...

I am so squeamish when it comes to blood, needle? nah we aint friends like that....blood donation? I will think again

laspapi said...

@ atinuke- A ready-made vein? Anyway, you're a fair-skinned person, yoruba girl. Someone commented here earlier on a "blood blog" that discrimination is standard practice worldwide. Our hospitals would probably reject caucasian donors. They take due care though, I heard the male supervisor who "wounded" me repeatedly saying to his assistants, "discard without recapping", even as they threw the used needles into the waste bin.

@ catwalq- do you know how you come across always? as if you're a hundred years ahead of your time. If you're sedate/normal when I eventually meet you, I'll push you back onto the plane.

See, depriving people of the opportunity to touch my smooth frame has started vendettas against me many times. I kid not.

@ naija dude- Just for the record, dude, I HATE needles. But when one looks at the high stakes, one jumps into the fray. Two couches away from me lay a guy in his late forties or so. When the attendants discovered whom he was, they went into over-drive. He was a consultant-surgeon who'd come to donate blood for a friend undergoing dialysis.

Uzo said...


I dont do needles. Dont like pain. Have given blood only once and i threw up. Yup. I am a big wuss.

Now the Baba Eje thing is so strange and weird and disturbing all at the same time.

Now you have smooth arms? Aje butter man...The female tender touch..maybe the nurses were afraid to hurt you. The male supervisor was a hater...Pele

Love this

Aramide said...

I'm impressed laspaps

And well done for withstanding the trauma

laspapi said...

Uzo, see who's calling me "butter", you big softie, throwing up from giving blood.
You're right, though, that supervisor was a real hater.

about "Baba Eje"- He looked like an African version of Del in the British sit-com, "Only fools and horses". Probably in his early sixties, he strutted around eyeing potential customers. You're sensitive, Uzo, I'm deadened to spectacles like that.

@ mona- Thank you, mona. Brother must go to the aid of brother. I think activities like this one lift us above the murk life throws so often

Ms. Catwalq said...

I am usually sane...most of the time.
I promise you I was only born in 1984. I am little girl o

My 2 cents said...

I'm happy you withstood the pain and taunt from your smooth skin to give blood. You did a good thing..

...toyintomato said...

lol...eyah , the effort was for a reason..

on a serious note, i used to donate blood at Lagos island maternity hospital. they had a private blood drive was a more sterile and professional place, it was a private organization. damn i cant remember the name.
it was a very good place to donate blood. they screen and test, then they donate the blood to major hospitals.(for anyone interested in this)

olaoluwatomi said...

Im thinking toyiintomatoes private blood drive is BLOOD FOR LIFE located within the General Hospital Lagos compound. For anyone interested in donating blood regularly(it is safe to donate blood at most 4times a year barring any contraindications) Please go to BLOOD FOR LIFES's office. Laspapi that includes you encouraging you to become a regular donor and not just a 'pajawiri; one pls bring along your friends!