The okada motorbike taxi has lengthy been a characteristic of the city panorama in lots of West African cities. Some riders are even fashion icons. They supply a quick method to get round gridlocked cities, and have spurred a wave of ride-hailing innovation prior to now couple years. But in addition they participate in a harmful type of journey; accidents and fatalities are frequent. In the course of the previous yr, in Lagos, there was a battle between commuters who depend on this implies of journey and politicians who need to tamp down on the riders.
Joseph, the motorcyclist we meet in “Blood Rider,” a documentary by Jon Kasbe, is an angel of life. Suited up in a black Fox Racing go well with and purple helmet, with the town lights of Lagos mirrored on his face, Joseph speeds towards visitors and time to ship blood to a hospital. Hazard and worry just isn’t an impediment right here. “I can bear in mind the primary time I rode a bike. I used to be scared at first,” he confesses early on within the movie. “I noticed my pals using the bikes, and I used to be, like, they’d one head and I had one head additionally—if they will do it, then I may also do it.” Weaving by the grain, and at instances strolling amongst stopped autos, Joseph expresses solely this discovered calm, and an earnest, decided method. Right here, his intention, and the drama on the middle of the movie, is to ship blood to Deborah, a pregnant girl who’s quickly dropping blood.
The phrase “postpartum hemorrhage” is what got here up in a Google search, a few years in the past, when Temie Giwa-Tubosun went on the lookout for what was killing ladies in Nigeria. Born and raised in Nigeria, she moved to America on the age of fifteen to affix her mother and father, who had gained the green-card lottery and studied there. She would go on to work as a well being skilled with the United Nations Improvement Programme and the World Well being Group earlier than resettling in Nigeria as an grownup. In 2014, Giwa-Tubosun herself had an in depth encounter with demise within the supply room, regardless of accessing assets and giving delivery to her son in a hospital, in Minneapolis. She was completely wholesome earlier than turning into pregnant, however skilled quite a lot of problems—preëclampsia, eclampsia, after which gestational diabetes. Her son was born prematurely. What was presupposed to be an easy course of—an historic, joyous one to be celebrated and remembered—turned horrifying. “It was a type of moments when your life has modified,” she informed me. She made a promise to herself to give attention to maternal well being care.
Greater than six hundred women die each day whereas giving delivery. Nigeria has one of many highest maternal-death charges on the planet. (The U.S. is amongst the highest for developed international locations.) Taking these numbers nearly as a private affront, Giwa-Tubosun started the One P.c Venture, amassing blood donations and discovering well being services with extra provides “about to be discarded,” then delivering them to sufferers in want. Over time, the venture turned LifeBank, which started managing real-time knowledge to attach blood to hospitals and sufferers and organizing its swift transport, by motorbike and different means, on streets clogged with visitors. “Blood is a residing factor,” Giwa-Tubosun defined to me. “And must be stored in a sure approach.” Few hospitals are outfitted with the infrastructure to maintain it, and, for these that may, energy outages and different system failures usually put the saved blood in danger. Since 2016, LifeBank has expanded to seven states in Nigeria, and in addition to Kenya. By its depend, the group has saved ten thousand and 4 hundred lives.
The lockdown measures that got here with COVID-19 introduced each challenges and alternatives to LifeBank. Given issues about publicity, all of the riders and different employees members needed to transfer into the LifeBank headquarters. “There are infants nonetheless being born,” Giwa-Tubosun stated. With its great amount of information and know-how already in place, the group has been in a position to oversee the motion of medical samples, medication, and checks throughout Nigeria, together with massive vehicles of oxygen to help intubated sufferers. Giwa-Tubosun stays optimistic about this second. The pandemic, she stated, had opened folks’s eyes to what the wants are and the place there are holes to be stuffed within the system. “We now have a greater sense for find out how to transfer testing kits round, collect stock details about essential issues, work out find out how to get folks oxygen,” she informed me. She is now fascinated with establishing a first-response infrastructure. “That is the era and the folks now we have been ready for,” she stated. “We will clear up entrenched and unusual issues.”