Terminally ill patients at the Port Moresby General Hospital will not be given blood unless relatives donate some, even if blood is available.
What if the patient does not have relatives to donate blood, what happens then?
When I asked this question, no one was able to give me an answer.
This guideline was made known to me when my sister was sick and needed blood.
My sister was a patient in Ward 9 and had been in hospital since December last year.
Early on the morning of the January 22 my sister called me and asked if all the relatives could go up to see her at the hospital. She had suffered severe bleeding during the night and was very weak.
I know that severe prolonged bleeding can cause death, so why has my sister called with her request? Was her time up?
We got to the hospital and indeed she was very weak. She told us that the staff of the ward had not visited her yet. It was not clear how her situation would be improved, but because she had lost a lot of blood, it was thought that a blood transfusion would help.
That instruction for a blood transfusion was given the next day on January 23, but only if the relatives donated blood.
My sister had an operation a week after she was admitted and, as required, the family donated five bags of blood. Only three bags were used.
Naturally the family wondered why the hospital would not now give her the two bags of blood left over from the lot donated for her surgery.
After we had donated two more bags and upon enquiry, we were told that the two bags left over from the previous donation were given to somebody else.
So, where are the ethics? If the blood donated especially for my sister was given to somebody else without our consent, surely they could have given my sister blood donated by a volunteer.
I have been voluntarily donating blood since 1980 and not once have I directed who should receive that blood.
I know of many other volunteer donors who give for the same reason. To give to anybody who needs the blood.
So, are terminally ill patients needing blood deemed not worthy of a blood transfusion even if relatives do not donate blood?
Is this not professional negligence? Unethical? Or even criminal intent in nature? Is this not violence against women? Please, somebody, tell us.
Joseph Kena’e Ka’au