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Nairobi’s top blood donor

He feels dismayed when healthy people look for excuses in order to avoid donating blood. It eats up his sanity whenever news breaks that there is a shortage of blood in hospitals.

When he heard about the Westgate tragedy, he knew he would be in a position to help the injured. Saving lives, he says is his motivation for frequently giving out blood.

Meet John Nyamu, Nairobi’s highest blood donor, according to the National Blood Transfusion Services data.

The 45-year-old veterinary officer made his first donation 22 years ago.

Popular misconceptions

At the time, Mr Nyamu had just completed college and was still searching for a job. That year, he donated once but did it twice the following year.

“In 1994, two years since my first donation, I dropped the whole thing and focused on looking for a job,” he says.

Nairobians turned up in large numbers to donate blood after the attack. | File, NairobiNews
Nairobians turned up in large numbers to donate blood after the attack. | File, NairobiNews

The job-hunting coupled at the time with misconceptions about donating blood made him take an 11-year hiatus before resuming regular giving.

That was the time when people living with HIV were facing a lot of stigma. Misconceptions about HIV/Aids were at their peak.

“There was this popular belief that if one donated blood, his or her chances of getting infected with the virus were doubled. I hate to admit it but it somehow affected my thinking,” he says.

With time, he was exposed to facts and this drove him to resume regular donation in 2004.

At 80 kilogrammes, Mr Nyamu donates not less than three times every year.

When he starts in January, he does it four times.

James Mwangi, a blood donor recruiter at NBTS, says Nyamu has donated blood 35 times.

Mr Mwangi says the leading Kenyan blood donor is a 65-year-old man from Karatia who has done it 48 times in 12 years.

“I will surely beat that record by the time I am 65. It is not a competition but regular blood donation makes me feel energised as I give something within me,” says the father of one.