Debunking Myths 3: Sickle Cell Patients Cannot Live Without Blood Transfusions.

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To many people, sickle cell disease is synonymous to repeated blood transfusions; in the absence of which the chances of survival for sufferers especially during the onset of crises are next to nil.

This is a view held by almost everyone who have to care for a sickle cell patient. From doctors to lay men, it is a shared sentiment. In fact, I have heard more than my own fair share of  ‘Mami we get for put ih blood’ coming from health care providers each time I visited my favourite rest house… hospitals.

This dependency on blood transfusions as the surest way to combat a crisis has made it difficult for many to come up with safer alternative ways of treating sickle cell patients without a blood bag constantly dangling from a hospital pole into their bodies; giving them the look of hungry vampires who thrive on blood to live.

I have had my own share of blood transfusions. There was rarely a time in my teen years, when I spent a night or two at the hospital without a transfusion. No matter how high my blood count was, many doctors insisted on transfusing me claiming that was the only way to stop the painful crises. And of course, my poor mother brought up to revere doctors taking their words as gospel, could now start shopping for one of the most expensive medicines in my treatment regiment… looking for a compatible blood donor.

Maybe those transfusions kept me alive. Maybe a higher power kept me alive, making sure the only virus I could inherit from my teen years adventures with blood transfusions was to become allergic to some substances.

But one thing constantly boggled my mind during all these years. Can a sickle cell patient live without blood transfusions?

Did I get an answer? I will say YES! We CAN live without blood transfusions. The last time I was transfused was when I just had my O’levels. That was more than two decades ago. A lot of things happened that made me look at things critically and decided, on my own to take charge of my health and stop the transfusions by all means possible.

One could say I embarked on a kind of mission. That mission has kept me transfusion free and healthier for more than 20 years. Interestingly, by some unwritten accord, many of the doctors who have treated me during these 20 plus years never requested a blood transfusion no matter how severe my crises appeared to be. They focus instead on hyper infusions of plain glucose; emphasizing the need to stay hydrated at all times. Therefore, the importance of drinking pure water daily cannot be over emphasised here. Again a higher hand directing matters? I believe so.

 

How have I succeeded to stay transfusion free all these years?

I took charge of my life as said earlier. Read all I could about living healthy with sickle cell. With the help of many friends and family, I discovered a lot of traditional herbs that speed blood production faster than anything. These herbs are cheap, readily available and they come virus free.

I watched a video which reassured me that many doctors are increasingly taking the challenge to treat people with complicated diseases without blood transfusions and having excellent results. It is a documentary series entitled Transfusion Alternatives. This can be found on the JW.ORG website.

Developing a healthy eating routine helped me maintain my no blood transfusion stance. Eating vegetables like this okongobong shown here is an added bonus. Not only is it very nutritious, it has medicinal properties even within its juice which are excellent blood builders.

Munching on fruits, be they seasonal or all year round is very essential.

Drink Folere. It is a local juice which can be made according to your taste. With or without sugar but it has the same effect. It serves as a blood tonic.

All photos from the kitchen of yours truly.

These are some of the things I have done over the years to keep my blood count up, not forgetting the routine check ups I have respected religiously. There are many more natural blood builders out there. We can atleast find one that could appeal to our taste buds. And I have come to believe that if I have lived without a blood transfusion for the better part of my adult life, then it is a fact that sickle cell patients may be medicine dependent but not transfusion dependent.

I cherish my life now and I take good care to stay healthy. I am not out on a suicide mission. Rather, I hope this may be a challenge to inspire any one reading this and especially, the medical community to think past the transfusion dependency attributed to warriors to develop safer, alternative ways to deal with their problem. And I encourage my fellow warriors to take charge, seek ways to build their blood up and live healthier lives without transfusions. There is no harm in trying. Remember, they come cheap and there are no side effects neither threat of viruses from contaminated blood.

Someday, I may face an emergency.  However, if I have lived 20 plus years without transfusions, I am very sure I can survive that emergency without one too. The time spent looking for a compatible donor could well mean the difference between life and death. So, just send a dedicated and compassionate doctor to help me, give me okonobong and folere or any of these many herbal medicines around and my blood count would shoot up.  This may be only one warrior’s story. Nevertheless, I have met a few more warriors who told me they have also gone long years without transfusions. I can therefore conclude that the transfusion dependence mentality attributed to warriors is a myth. With a little more care, we can also enjoy quality healthcare without the added fear of possible contaminations from frequent blood transfusions.

Take charge, tell your story and make a difference.

ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW.

I love toread your comments and feedbacks. They inspire me. Please drop a line.

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Author: ARREY - ECHI

I am a Sickle Strong Warrior and Advocate. Welcome to my space.

20 Replies to “Debunking Myths 3: Sickle Cell Patients Cannot Live Without Blood Transfusions.”

  1. I learn something new from you everyday. Anyone suffering from SC should count themselves very lucky to be receiving tons of info free of charge. Knowing that there’re alternatives to blood transfusions is awesome! Keep it flowing, girl.

    1. Sis Natalie, so glad to read from you here! Happy you learn something new. For real, unless one decides to think out the box, we can hardly ever make discoveries because we just go with the flow.

  2. Quite an interesting and educative piece. Until recently, I was of the thought process that, ALL sickle cell patients must be transfused when they have their crisis as the disease turns to eat up their blood cells.
    Becoming a healthcare practitioner, I have come to the realization that not all crises require a transfusion. There are different levels of severity of the crises and unless the benefits outweigh the risks, warriors should not be transfused for any reason. There are several different ways to increase the blood counts (especially in mild to moderate severity) without a transfusion. So, we should all help our warriors by giving them good and succinct medical advice to manage the disease condition and minimize transfusions.
    I love reading your posts,keep them coming.

    1. Thank you very much Ms Tina Evans. Your contribution is very much appreciated especially coming from a healthcare practitioner. I am so in agreement with your stance on giving succint medical advice and minimizing and avoiding transfusions.
      Thank you very much. I sure will keep the posts coming. Please keep stopping by and adding your valued contributions.

  3. Arrey being a sickle cell carrier myself with frequent “mini crises attacks” I never had the luxury (thank God!) Of getting transfusions! Blood tonics have been my steady companion. To the above list you forgot to add nature’s drink… Good old water. It is said lack of and/or not enough oxygen in the blood may trigger a crises. Our good old water provides that. Since I decided to try and drink a t least 3 litres of water a day plus of course adopt a healthy lifestyle and diet… I feel healthier and the attacks are less frequent. Knowledge is wealth.

    1. Thank you Sis Fen. Amen to the fact thatyou never had transfusions and I pray you never will! Blood tonics are very important. I didn’t forget good ole water. I already did a whole blog post on the importance of drinking tons of water daily. All the same, I just edited to emphasise on this nature’s best drink.I so agree with you on how water and a healthy life style greatly contribute to less crises. Keep fighting my fellow warrior and sis. There’s always hope on the horizon!

  4. I am not a doctor but from my working in Public health and community development I have encounter several doctors. I think you are perfectly right in saying an SC can live without blood transfusion but it cannot be a generalized opinion. Cases will varied for persons to persons depending on their degree of crisis and the physical health of the person at the time of the crisis. I am sorry to hear at the early stages of your treatment it was a total dependency on donated blood but you see the understanding of the condition and advancements in medicine means a treatment that was totally relied on twenty years ago may not be an appropriate treatment now. But you are correct as I say, with the proper diet you can make your own red blood cells which will be free of the risk of contamination, keep yourself hydrated and eat vegetables rick in potassium and keep your blood count up. Great read and keep up the good work warrior ;/)

    1. You are right it is not generalised and it certainly depends on health condition and to an extent the expertise of the attending physician. And yes, medical advances have meant quality health care for everyone including people who suffer from SC. However, there are still some Drs out there who continue to insist on blood transfusions. Twenty years ago, dependent on transfusions left me completely weak and prone to constant attacks. It is all about taking good care of oneself and educating oneself as medical science makes progress in the field.
      Thank you so much GF for the great feedback. I plan to keep taking care and producing my own red blood cells. The fight goeson 🙂

  5. I bless the Lord for your life. To all u’ve listed above add prayers; the mystery of Holy communion and faith in the most high God. JESUS heals. God bless you

    1. Thank you very much Mrs Agbor for stopping by and dropping a line too. Yes prayers are very important without which it is not that possible to carry on day by day. I plan to write a whole blog post on that aspect. Please come again and keep reading. Thank you.

  6. Thank you so much for directing me to thispage. This blog does not only appeal to combatants of sickle cell but a lesson one must take to live healthily. There are lots of other life threatening conditions induced by environmental and lifestyle choices that can also be managed well or prevented if we just follow these simple but life sustaining rules. Well done!!!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by Sis Delphine. Was great catching up with you and especially happy you find this blog appealing to everyone. I was really glad to come in after a while and see your presence! Thank you.

  7. I want that Okongobong and those fruits… and the juice too! You are such an inspiration to me. Health is wealth and I am glad to see ways in which you keep your life going. Keep it up!

    1. Allpackaged and ready to send just drop your address 🙂
      Thanks sis. It is said what you can’t beat join or rather develop coping mechanisms. Thanks so much for always stopping by. You inspire me to keep up. One love.

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