27% maternal deaths occur due to excessive blood loss

Karachi: In South Asia and particularly Pakistan, too many mothers suffer from severe bleeding during pregnancy, delivery or after childbirth and timely transfusion of blood and blood products can help save nearly three-quarters of the women who lose their lives due to childbirth associated bleeding, said experts at a public awareness session on blood donation held at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKU).

According to National Committee for Maternal & Neonatal Health (NCMNH) childbirth associated bleeding accounts for about 27 per cent of all maternal deaths in Pakistan. Safe transfusion refers to the collection, preparation and transfusion of healthy and un-infected donor blood without any adverse effects to the recipient. Improperly screened blood can lead to transmission of hepatitis B, C and HIV.

The AKUH Blood Bank caters to the needs of all hospitalized patients within the main campus and four secondary hospitals. Around 50,000-60,000 transfusions are given annually to the patients. Blood transfusion is a lifesaving intervention which plays a central role in patient management within a health care system. “The entire process of transfusion from collection of blood to transfusion to the recipient (from vein to vein) should strictly be flawless,” said Dr Farheen Mahar, Consultant Haematologist.

Consultant Gynaecologist Dr Shazia Mahseer highlighted the various conditions in pregnancy and childbirth which may require blood transfusion such as postpartum haemorrhage or excessive bleeding after delivery.

Dr Mahseer said according to the World Health Organization, nearly 800 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day and almost all of these deaths occur in developing countries.

Instructor Haematologist Dr Muhammad Shariq Shaikh said several parameters such as age, weight, occupation, interval between two donations and pre-existing illnesses in a blood donor may lead to acceptance or deferral from blood donation. He said safe blood donor can save three lives with a single unit of donated blood,” said.

The programme was preceded by a blood donation camp. The take home message of the event was that every mother is exceptional and no women should die because of unavailability of blood. Concrete steps need to be taken at the national level to improve access to safe blood and blood products.

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