Monthly Archives: April 2018

Hello everyone. I gave a talk about blood transfusion in February 2017. It was a parents’ perspective on the whole process. It was an honour to be invited to present my views in a gathering of intellectuals. This is one of the talks closest to my heart. You see, coincidentally, after the talk on Thursday the 2nd of February 2017 at the Birmingham Metropole, Otito haemorrhaged and subsequently crashed on Sunday the 5th of February 2017. It was really weird for us as a family. He bled out because his pancreas failed. I have never seen so much blood being given to one little person in my entire life sincerely. It was surreal. There I was talking to this group of people about why blood transfusion was amazing, life saving and all without realising what was lurking in the corner.  He must have received nearly 20 bags of different types of blood products (without exaggerating) over the course of the 2 weeks that he spent in the intensive care. The fact that he still passed away in the end made it difficult for me to talk about the experience. Well, today, more than one year later, I feel really able to share with you my story about why blood transfusion is wonderful. I know there are very many varied opinions about if this should be done – especially from religious, traditional and cultural points of view. I acknowledge them but I must put forward my case in support of blood transfusion. Had it not existed, not only would I have missed out on sharing the life of my little warrior for as long as we did in the end but I would have lost him on that very Sunday that he haemorrhaged. I know it sounds silly and he never woke up anyway but you see, having the option of transfusing blood bought the doctors more time to try to save my son. It also gave me the opportunity to gradually come to terms with the possibility of a life without him. If I had not had those 2 weeks to read him his favourite stories, sing him his favourite songs, play his favourite music compilation to him, I would never have been able to accept his depature. Thanks to all the hardworking people who work tirelessly to make this process happen. Thanks to those who establish systems that make the process safe. You are all heroes and as a parent, I am extremely grateful. So please I hope that you enjoy the piece. At the end, I also added a link to the feedback and comments from the day. Enjoy! BLOOD TRANSFUSION TALK Paediatric and Neonatal Transfusion programme My near initiation as it were into being a blood transfusion recipient was actually a few years ago after a caesarean section. I remember being told that my blood count was very low and being prepared about the likelihood of getting one. My first feeling was that of horror. You see, I grew up in sub-Saharan Africa where anything blood related is viewed rather superstitiously. Blood represented life. Important traditional contracts or covenants are sealed in blood. Blood could not be mixed without care. During marriages blood lines were traced even up to four generations to prevent incest. Royalty, warriors and servants were identified through blood lines. Discussions around blood were not done lightly. Although a lot of civilisation has watered down many deep rooted traditional beliefs, myths and superstition, we still retain many fragments of the old African traditions and cultures. I felt that the blood discussion was best avoided. The thought of having my blood mixed with that of a total stranger was disturbing. Despite my education and knowledge, I had always been unable to see the need for it. I also had bad memories of seeing blood transfusions go badly and this fuelled my anxiety too. It was quite customary locally to blame subsequent infections or health complications arising post-transfusion on the “blood transfusion”. The mostly inadequate and weak health system could not provide any alternative answers and so locals demonised the whole blood transfusion process further fuelling the general aversion for blood transfusion. As there was absolutely no confidence in most of the systems responsible for blood transfusion, relatives became the culprits and producers of blood in areas where blood banks were empty. Sadly, this led to the discovery of blood related diseases in such kind volunteers further leading to a sense of grief and misconception about blood transfusion. The local adage “what you don’t know won’t kill you” fuelled this rumour. You can now imagine my horror at the mention of a blood transfusion. My thoughts were fixated on the lack of existence of any available relatives to provide blood for me. I would still not have wanted a stranger’s blood in my veins. Luckily, I escaped without needing a blood transfusion on that occasion because my blood count improved with medication. Well a few days later, the son for which I had the caesarean section (Otito) was diagnosed with an inherited metabolic condition called Propionic Acidaemia which compromises his body’s ability to breakdown proteins. As I was dealing with that news, I got a call from the “heel prick” people to say that my son also had the sickle cell gene. Well, without boring you with the details, somewhere along the line, there was talk about blood transfusion again only this time no amount of prayer, positivity or optimism could will it away. After a few months of life and having had several hospitalisations, he had to have a central venous line – a portacath. It improved his quality of life drastically however, the consequence of that was that his blood had to be discarded each time a blood sample was taken. He also became more prone to line infections leading to even more sampling. Together with his sickle cell trait, he became a frequent candidate for blood transfusion. In the last year he suffered […]

NHS Blood Transfusion Talk : A Parent’s perspective on Blood Transfusion

I opened Otito’s box this weekend. It is a box where I stored away the clothes, toys and personal effects he used in the weeks preceding his death. I suddenly realised that the batteries were still in the toys and had to go through the torture of rummaging the box to sort out his toys. The thought that I would have felt worse if the toys got ruined powered me through the prospect. I built myself up for it all week. I was very aware that seeing Otito’s stuff was always my greatest trigger. For this reason, I kept on putting off the simple task. On Sunday, without even thinking about it after church, I just went for it. On one hand, i think that feeling very uplifted after what had been a lovely church service gave me the boost that I needed. From one trouser to the next, I sorted through. After that I brought out one toy after the other. Initially, I avoided setting any of the buttons off to avoid hearing the sounds of what were once the soundtracks of our lives. In my usual clumsy way I dropped one of the toys on top of the heap and that set off the cacophony I was desperately avoiding. To my utmost surprise, the feelings I began to experience were anything but raw grief. I began to smile as one sound after the next took me back to my boy. To times when his little fingers set those same sounds off. Times long gone came flashing before my eyes. My grief was real but suddenly it felt kinder to me. It was not pulling at my heart but somehow, it felt like a dull ache. The sounds warmed my heart and I even found myself smiling through tears that seemed more like tears of joy at the time. In less than a few minutes, the familiar sounds cajoled the boys from the different parts of the house where they were otherwise busily lost in their own worlds. The sounds lured them and as Mark walked into the room followed by Karl, I began to struggle to switch off the toys. I wished that I was alone in the house as I would have loved to indulge myself. Mark began singing along and It became a bitter sweet moment for us all. There was a serenity within it all as Mark sang that I cannot really explain. We were all together yet lost deeply within our individual thoughts. We began smiling at one another and enjoying the toy sounds while selfishly holding on to our individual thoughts. “These are Otito’s toys mum. What are you doing?”, Mark asked me rather protectively. ” I am just taking the batteries out”, I said. So we spent the Sunday afternoon thinking about Otito. We also watched some videos from when Otito was a baby playing with Mark. It was just nice to see our boy again. I had forgotten how happy he used to be amidst all the pain. I am so grateful for all the lovely videos we ever made and still make. It is so funny how much we forget over time and how quickly grief and pain replace every joyful memory when they strike. It is such a blessing to be able to revisit some old but beautiful memories. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed this, you will find more articles like this here Photo credit: Pixabay

Death at my door (DAMD): Smiles