Healthcare workers hope more people follow one BiH family's example.
By Bedrana Kaletović for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 13/03/13
Zikret Kisic and his four brothers combined to donate blood more than 300 times. [Bedrana Kaletović/SETimes]
Five brothers from a small town in northeast Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) are doing their part to combat the ongoing problem of blood supply shortages.
Brothers Nusret, Zikret, Husnija, Mehmed and Fikret Kišić from Srebrenik have combined to donate blood more than 300 times. The family's willingness to help has drawn praise from the Red Cross and is especially important in BiH, where health care workers say the number of blood donations has been steadily declining.
"Every time I give blood, I am convinced that I am saving someone's life," Nusret said. "For me, that is the motive to be a blood donor every third month. However, my motive is also to inspire others to be blood donors."
The Red Cross is constantly working to encourage citizens to donate blood, often organising campaigns among factory workers and in high schools and colleges.
Longtime Red Cross activist Sead Hasić, the minister of labour and social policy in the Tuzla canton, said the Kišić family is unique.
"For more than 20 years I worked in transfusion, and in my long-lasting career, I never recorded the case that one family, in this case five brothers, are blood donors to such a degree. It is truly rare," Hasić said.
To have an adequate blood supply, transfusion clinics need to collect at least three donations per 100 inhabitants. Clinics in BiH have monitored a decline in donations in the last few years. Most hospitals in the country would exhaust their blood supply if they go more than one month without any donations.
"In the past years, blood was given by the poorer citizens and they were stimulated for the humane act in several ways by the state. Today, the only advantage of blood donating is the privilege of the doctor's examination and nothing more. The state companies have retained the practice of giving two days off to voluntary blood donors, but in the private sector that is not a case. As my boss says, 'No one is forcing you to be humane,'" Nenad Janković, a Bijeljina resident, told SETimes.
Health care facilities have had to plan for low blood supplies. Surgical procedures are not discontinued, but patients are required to provide blood before surgery, usually two units (900 ml).
Dr. Edin Duraković of the University Clinical Centre in Tuzla said the facility suggests that members of patients' families donate blood. But if family members are not available or able to give blood, patients are forced to find alternatives.
"My blood type is always in short supply and I already know who I need to contact to be my blood donors," Tuzla resident Armina Osmić, who requires blood transfusions at least three times a year and pays people to donate blood for her, told SETimes. "For a unit of blood of 450 ml, I pay 15 euros."
Similar problems occur in other Balkan countries. The lack of supply has given rise to a black market that has become a salvation for many.
In Montenegro and Serbia, patients who need blood types the hospital does not have pay as much as 80 euros per unit, and in Bulgaria from 35 to 90 euros.
For the true blood donor, life is sacred and money is not an object.
"For me and my brothers, and all voluntary donations, money is not the motive," Nurset Kišić said. "Blood simply has no price. For me, it is enough to know that I have saved a life."