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Rwanda Military Hospital introduces a new way of blood testing

Rwanda Military Hospital (RMH) launched Apheresis technique, a new system of blood separation. The method launched on 24 March 2016 is a medical procedure that involves taking blood from a donor or patient and separating the blood into individual components so that one particular component that is needed can be removed and the remaining components are then re-introduced back into the bloodstream of the patient or donor.

The launch of the new technology of blood separation in Rwanda was preceded by a four day training workshop attended by some medics at RMH and one Medical Doctor from Uganda. The training is aimed at equipping the trainees with the required skills to operate the Apheresis machine.

Odette Uwanyirigira a nurse at Rwanda Military Hospital one of the trainees explained how the machine works saying that it mainly helps in the separation of blood whether it’s from the donor or a patient. Blood is taken from the patient or donor and is separated in different parts and then the machine extracts the needed part and the rest is put back into the bloodstream.

According to Lt Col Dr Fabien Ntaganda a hemato-pathologist at Rwanda Military Hospital (RMH), the new technology is another milestone in the treatment of some cancers and diseases that affect red blood cells, platelet and plasma among others.

Patients who suffered from these diseases were offered less and those who afforded expenses resorted to treatment from outside countries like India, South Africa among others; however this is all set to change. “The introduction of a fully automated apheresis machine is a great step towards the improvement of patients care in the country but also in the region”, he said.

Lt Col Dr Fabien Ntaganda further explained that the machine has three main functions namely blood donation, therapeutic apheresis and stem cell harvest for bone marrow transplantation.

“Many diseases ranging from minor ones such as malaria to the very complicated ones like cancer can be treated using apheresis technique. Take an example of severe malaria; it attacks red blood cells so this machine has the ability to remove the affected red blood cells and put back the normal ones, this helps in speeding up the healing process,” he explained.

The machine works along with other medication, however when the disease is discovered in late stages after becoming chronic, less can be achieved with the treatment.

The machine will be fully operational once doctors master its use hence further discussion for training is yet to be planned.

Other countries in the region are also set to benefit from this new blood testing technology introduced at Rwanda Military Hospital. The machine is the first of its kind in the whole of east and central Africa and has the capacity to work on four or five patients a day.