A SCANDAL in which health workers at Lusaka’s Levy Mwanawasa Hospital are alleged to be selling blood to desperate patients has been exposed.
And relatives of a patient who died and were made to pay K400 for two units of blood are up in arms against the hospital management.
Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr John Kachimba regretted the incident and has since instituted investigations to establish the truth.
Dr Kachimba described the incident as unfortunate, adding that it was immoral for anyone at the institution to take advantage of a desperate situation as blood received from donors was free.
“We don’t sell blood at this institution, we receive this blood from donors and we give it free of charge to patients. We are not aware that such a thing is happening here.
“Of course there are shortages of blood and these shortages are experienced more when schools are closed. The situation gets much better when schools reopen. We will institute investigations to ensure that this unscrupulous habit is put to an end,’’ said Dr Kachimba.
The patient, Kanu Muchindu, 23, was admitted on January 23 and his condition required urgent blood transfusion.
The blood bank staff notified the relatives that there was no blood available at the blood bank.
However, a few minutes later another person gave the relatives a tip-off that the hospital would provide the blood with a bribe and advised them to go back to the blood bank where indeed a member of staff demanded K500 for the required quantity of blood.
The mother of the deceased Ms Daisy Muchindu explained that the officers at the blood bank refused to give her son blood on credit and insisted on being paid cash first before they could administer the blood.
“My son was admitted on the 23rd of January and the same day the doctors ordered a blood transfusion, regrettably the staff at the blood bank informed us that there was no blood available.
“But while we were pondering the next move a person approached us and advised us to return to the blood bank as he was aware that the blood was available and the staff just needed a bribe to release it. “To us it was not a matter of a bribe but to save a desperate situation, my son’s life was important. The K500 they requested for was not available and we suggested that they supply the commodity and we would pay afterwards but they refused saying they wanted to be paid first,” narrated Ms Muchimba. She then produced K400 and pleaded with the staff to accept the K400 for the sake of saving life and the money was accepted and immediately the blood was given to the patient. A further two units of blood was required of which the staff from the blood bank demanded for another payment which Ms Muchindu was unable to pay. The blood was not released and the patient died later. Dr Kachimba has said punitive action would be taken against any staff indulging in such illicit activities.