Background

Blood transfusion services (BTS) have a duty to safeguard blood donors as well as to the recipients of blood transfusion. This duty of care extends to prospective donors who are deferred from donation, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, as well as those who donate blood and are subsequently found to have abnormal test results.  The duty entails providing information, counselling and support to help such prospective donors to understand and respond to unexpected and usually unwelcome information about their health status. Blood donor counselling is considered to be a key component in enhancing blood safety in most countries. National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) started counselling blood donors in 1993.  The service is offered for free to all prospective blood donors. services.

Stages in donor Counselling

In a Blood Transfusion set up, counselling assumes the following pattern:

1. Predonation information,

2. Predonation counselling,

3. Blood collection and testing

4. Post donation counselling.

Pre-donation information

This is given by Customer Relations Officers whose role is to recruit, educate, motivate and retain safe blood donors.

Pre-donation Counselling

is counselling that is offered to all prospective blood donors before they donate blood so as to help them make an informed decision as to whether they should donate blood or not. It is recognized as an effective strategy to reduce Transfusion-Transmissible Infections (TTIs) in donated blood.  Predonation counselling is also aimed at establishing donor suitability against specified criteria, to encourage donors to live a healthy lifestyle and to clarify myths and misconceptions. Blood donors are educated on tests done on donated blood and psychologically prepared for the outcome of test results.

Blood Donation & Testing

All donated blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis. Donors are notified of their test results as follows: If a donor tests positive for any one of the four markers above, they are notified through the post. Two letters, one for the donor and the other for the doctor/ counsellor are generated. The letters are coded in order to maintain confidentiality. The donor is requested to make an appointment to receive their test results.

Post-donation Counselling

This is counseling done after test results are out regardless of positive or negative test result to enable clients to deal with emotional reactions from the test result and to make informed decisions. It is also acknowledged to be an integral component of donor care for informing the donors of test results hence all donors are encouraged to seek their test results. During post donation counselling donors are informed of their test results and the need for behaviour change or maintenance, depending on the test result.

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