Today is World Blood Donor Day and every June 14 is a day to bring attention to how critical blood donors are to saving the lives of people requiring blood transfusions.
The need for blood transfusions and the frequent short supply of donor blood of the right type led to World Blood Donor Day being declared by the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2004.
Nigeria has some of the lowest blood donation rates in the world, with just 10 per cent of the population donating freely. Underlining the need for blood donations is the fact that Nigeria has the fourth-highest maternal mortality rate in the world, accounting for 19 per cent of all maternal deaths globally. Postpartum haemorrhaging (the loss of too much blood following birth) is the leading cause of such deaths. The lack of infrastructure to get crucial blood supplies in Nigeria compounds this problem.
However, one organisation doing vital work in addressing this issue is LifeBank, which is not only working to get more Nigerians to donate blood, but also to get blood safely to the patients who need it most urgently.
The second of these mandates is fulfilled using a digital platform, which sorts orders based on urgency, location, and price. Dispatch riders move blood in boxes that are padlocked and can only be opened by the recipient using a Bluetooth connection or key.
To this end, Google is partnering with the firm to support their work. Speaking on the initiative, Head of Brand and Reputation, Google Sub-Saharan Africa, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, said: “Organising information and making it accessible is at the heart of Google’s mission. LifeBank’s system shows just how much magic can happen when universally accessible tools and information meet human creativity, aspirations and resilience.”
By designing a system to connect blood banks to hospitals via Google Maps Platform, LifeBank has been able to decrease delivery time from 24 hours to less than 45 minutes. LifeBank founder, Temie Giwa-Tubosun said: “In the race to get blood to patients, every second counts. Donated blood has a shelf life of just six weeks. Often, it expires before it is ever used because doctors are unable to locate the type of blood that they need. The doctors who need the blood and the blood banks who are discarding blood needed to somehow find a way to communicate with each other. We are solving this problem by using the Google Maps Platform to create an interface by mapping each location involved in blood distribution across Lagos – from hospitals to blood banks to the delivery drivers.”
To date, LifeBank has signed up over 5,800 new donors, moved over 13,800 pints, served 300-plus hospitals, and saved more than 4,000 lives. Today, as part of the build-up to the World Blood Donor Day, Google is using its voice to highlight the need for people to donate blood through a spotlight campaign showcasing the work done by LifeBank and Giwa-Tubosun.
Google announced it is also supporting the creation of a short documentary due to be released later this year.