16 Days Activism: Meet 47-Year-Old Fitang Magdaleine: The Resilient and Courageous 35-Times Blood Donor to Survivors of Violence
Colbert Gwain, CEO of A Common Future, Bamenda-Cameroon
With gun violence threatening an already lower blood supply in hospitals in Cameroon in general and the restive two English-speaking regions in particular, and with survivors of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) often needing an adequate supply of blood where certain forms of abuse have occurred, being available to freely donate blood has never been an easy task. However, Mme Fitang Madeleine, a courageous 47-year-old woman from Njinikom in the Boyo Division of the North West Region of Cameroon stands in a class of her own.
Understanding that blood was a life-saving commodity that wasn’t coming cheap for hospitals to obtain, Mme Fitang Magdaleine, herself a Nurse by profession, quickly made the decision very early in her life to become a free blood donor. At A Common Future organization, we celebrate her resilience and courage during these 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence as she puts smiles on the faces of families of victims of violence through regular free blood donations.
Hear her in her own words:
‘I am a free blood donor of the O-negative rhesus factor. I became a donor in 2003 when I was in Upper Sixth in Progressive Comprehensive High School, PCHS Mankon- Bamenda. I was motivated by a team of Doctors and Lab technicians who came to the school to talk about the importance of free blood donation to save lives. That day I decided to make a trial by first testing if I was qualified to donate. After tests were carried out and the results confirmed I was in good condition, I immediately donated blood that same day. Six months later, I went to the hospital blood bank of the Bamenda Regional Hospital to donate blood. The third time I donated in the same hospital was when I heard a radio announcement pleading with anyone with blood type ‘O’ to come save a life in the hospital as there was a patient in dire need of blood type ‘O’ negative rhesus group. That faithful evening I had come back from work and lit my stove to prepare some painted rice to eat. Immediately I heard the announcement, I quenched the fire and left for the hospital. When I arrived at the New Private block, I went knocking from door to door to find the patient who needed blood. When I got to the right patient, the room was full of Hausa men and women. The moment I told them that I had come to donate the O-negative blood they needed for their patient, oh my God!; come and see glad and smiling faces. This was because 50 percent of people in Old Town had come to help donate but there was no match. In the excitement, all of them followed me to the blood bank where I was tested and confirmed good to donate. By the time I left the bleeding room and was coming out, many were at the door waiting with Malta Guinness packs. Some showered praises on me, while others made on-the-spot voluntary contributions. From that day, I took it upon myself to take up voluntary blood donation as a social responsibility to save lives because my blood type is very difficult to come by. Since then, I have volunteered blood in several hospitals, including
the Bamenda Regional Hospital, HGOPY Ngoussou, Jamot Hospital, Center for Kidney Research in Ngoussou-Yaounde, Clinic D’Espoire Essos, Yaounde Military Hospital, General Hospital Ngoussou Yaounde, CUSS Melen Yaounde, and l’hopital des Soeurs Mvog Betsi-Yaounde. This makes a total of about 35 times I have donated blood. What keeps me going is the satisfaction with the last experience. I have never had any malaise after the donation. I keep seeing the hand of God upon my life as I save lives. I am passionate about making a difference in the world. As a woman, I know I have gone against medical protocols as far as blood donation is concerned. At the moment I am 47 years old and I have been trying to stop this habit but immediately I hear someone is in dire need, I find myself on the move. I just want to thank God for making me different.’
While universal blood donor Fitang Magdaleine never expects to be rewarded for her acts of kindness, she nevertheless sounds off the advantages of being a blood donor. Each time she donates blood, she benefits from free health screening since her vital signs must be checked to see whether she is free of high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, HIV, and other infectious diseases; a healthier heart and vascular system, a happier and longer life; and more importantly, a calorie-free snack.
Fortunately for Fitang Magdaleine, she falls in the low-titer Type O blood group. This type of blood is safe for most people because Type O blood is considered the “universal donor,” and “low titer” means it contains fewer antibodies that can cause patients to react to the transfusion.
With foot traffic in and around blood drive stations waning because of the prolonged bloody conflict in the two English-speaking regions and the massive displacement of traditional blood donors, resilient and courageous ladies like Fitang Magdaleine are needed in society today more than ever. After the mass shootings in Ebgekaw village in Mamfe and the other at an entertainment snack in Nkwen-Bamenda last weekend, the two Regional hospitals are running short of the precious human liquid – blood.
Mme Fitang Magdaleine hopes to create a community of non-remunerated selfless women blood donors who would donate to a fellow community member in times of need.
The raging, senseless, and deadly conflict in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon came amid an acute scarcity of blood at the nation’s blood banks. With the rampant and indiscriminate shooting of innocent civilians in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, with new studies revealing that gunshot patients require 10 times more blood than survivors of other traumas, including car accidents, falls, and stabbing assaults, plus alarming cases of domestic violence incidences; blood donations become critical to saving lives.
As part of the 16 Days Campaign to End Gender-Based Violence, the Right to Smile Foundation-Cameroon joins A Common Future and other like-minded organizations to encourage many more women to consider saving lives through regular blood donations. By emulating the example of Fitang Magdaleine, they would be putting smiles on the faces of families who are victims of violence.
It is also the hope of the Right to Smile Foundation-Cameroon that not only women but government officials, NGOs, civil body societies, students, religious organizations, and paramilitary personnel join this humanitarian mission long imbibed by Fitang Magdaleine.
Many women continue to feel the effects of their abuse in psychological, physical, and social terms even long after the official end of violent conflict. While praying for a definite solution to be found so this violent conflict comes to an end; we urge survivors of the violent conflict to seek psychosocial and medical support from Mbeng’s Diagnostic and Therapeutic Clinic, the official sponsor of A Common Future 16 Days of Activism campaign. You can reach out to them for your quality health care and tailored services at 677848842/698979112/654171135 or visit their offices at Yaounde-Nkolbison, behind hospital Irad and in Bamenda on the 2nd Floor, Quiferou Building, one way into Nkwen marke