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Tears won’t save lives, blood will – Asha Dafalla leading blood donor in Kenya

Asha M. Dafalla has been donating blood since 1981, but an unpleasant experience caused her to stop for five years.

“I lost consciousness after giving blood, and that kept me from donating again until 1986,” she says.

But now Asha is the leading blood donor in Kenya and Africa, having donated 74 times.

“I just donate; I never know who I am donating for. The last time I donated was on Valentine’s Day,” she said.

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Asha is a community worker with the Lavie Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. She’s also a wife and mother of three.

The Ministry of Health has recognised Asha for her efforts.

Asha’s first personal encounter with the recipient of her blood was when a friend’s brother was hospitalised after an accident.

“That was the only time I knew who was going to receive my blood,” she said.

Since that experience, Asha has made it her mission to donate blood and save lives.

Asha urges young people to start donating blood early, as she did when she was 17.

“When there are major incidents like Westgate or Dusit, people go in large numbers to donate, but remember that there is someone who is injured, who is dying and who needs that blood,” she said.

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Unfortunately, Kenya’s blood bank often experiences shortages and patients are sometimes forced to rely on donations from their relatives.

“In Kenya right now, the bank has no blood at all. We are losing lives and we are losing blood because we are giving blood to the dying patient when it is too late,” said Asha.

Asha was surprised by the difference she saw when she visited Rwanda in 2018.

“I was invited to Rwanda as the highest female blood donor, and I was surprised that in Rwanda they have blood on shelves waiting for patients. But here in Kenyatta or Mbagathi, we have patients waiting for blood,” she said.

Asha encourages people to make blood donation a habit, rather than waiting for a tragedy to happen.

“When we donate blood, it has to be screened before it is given to the patient. So sometimes we lose patients waiting for the blood to be given to them,” she said.

Asha also urges women to take the lead in donating blood. “We are the strongest and when we see our children, husbands, parents and siblings dying, we have that heart. Tears can never save a life, but if you have donated blood, you have saved a life,” she said.

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