A public health expert, Dr. Adiat Adeniyi, has bemoaned the lack of voluntary blood donors and access to grants, noting that they are some of the major challenges people living with sickle cell face while trying to access automatic exchange blood transfusion services in Nigeria.
The physician disclosed that the manual blood transfusion in adults is gradually being overtaken by the automatic exchange transfusion which is easier and better.
He, however, noted that accessing this easier option is not always easy for those who need it.
Speaking in an interview with NAN Adeniyi, who works with the Sickle Cell Foundation, described the manual Exchange Blood Transfusion as ‘very very tedious,’ noting that it takes longer time, prone to infections and contamination.
He, nevertheless, said that despite the risks associated with it, it is the only other option that most patients living with sickle cell can afford.
Adeniyi said, “The manual once seems to be a popular reason being socio-economic factors because of the expenses of the automated.”
He, however, noted that the automated EBT is gradually being accepted more by adults with sickle cell because of the availability of the machine, but noted that the main hurdle to its use is the lack of funds by patients.
“How many patients can afford almost 300k for a session and it is even subsidised in our centre here. Imagine how much it would cost outside.”
“But the procedure is necessary for people who need it, he clarified.
He stated that undergoing EBT is necessary because “you want to avoid complications like stroke, cerebral vascular accidents in a sickle cell patient because their blood tends to form clots and become solid that is why it is needed.”
While the exchange blood transfusion does not remove the sickled blood cells, it reduces the chances of the person developing complications. In some cases, a patient may need to undergo the procedure monthly.
According to The University of Illinois Hospital and Clinics, exchange transfusion is performed to remove the abnormal sickle red blood cells and replace them with normal red blood cells, to help reduce complications, including acute chest syndrome, stroke, and multi-organ failure.