Blood connects us all: Celebrating World Blood Donor Day
The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) commemorates World Blood Donor Day on the 14th of June. This is an international day of recognition of blood donors globally. The theme for World Blood Donor Day this year is “Blood connects us all”.
In the face of major communicable disease epidemics South Africa has maintained a high degree of blood safety and a reliable supply of blood countrywide. This is largely because it follows key recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on good blood service management: reliance on unpaid voluntary donors, universal testing of donated blood, and reduction of unnecessary transfusions. SANBS is yielding positive results across these areas:
- It is one of the 65 countries in the world that gets 100 percent of its blood from voluntary donorswho are not remunerated. The WHO has a target that by 2020 all countries will adopt this model.
- SANBS works closely with healthcare workers who do transfusions at health facilities to heighten awareness about the correct use of blood thus reducing wastage of this precious resource.
- To keep blood safe SANBS tests every single unit of blood collected daily for pathogens that cause HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis which are highly prevalent in the country. South Africa is one of few middle-income countries that run nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT) which detects the pathogens responsible for these epidemics by significantly reducing the length of the window period.
This is an investment that has given many accident victims, people suffering from blood-related diseases and mothers in labour the opportunity to live healthy lives.
First-time mother Wendy Patterson a chance to watch her son grow up. She wouldn’t be alive today had it not been for 22 generous strangers giving blood that was used to transfuse her body back to vitality.
“The birth of my son was the most wonderful experience of my life but the treatment I took to manage the pain that two slipped discs caused me resulted in me almost bleeding to death on two occasions. I remember seeing the crisp white hospital bedsheets turn red as large volumes of blood left my body,” recalls Patterson.
Today SANBS has over 400 000 donors on its database and the number is growing. This has been achieved somewhat through embracing the diversification of its donor base of which 38 percent now represents the black community – the figure has grown steadily over the years.
“SANBS is also getting younger as we are seeing the proportion of donations from our youth increase. We have invested in taking a targeted approach to donor education and community support that moves beyond the need for blood as medical response but also a unifying act of love and care. Blood really connects people and our hope is that our efforts will see an even wider range of donors walk into our donor centres to start their journey in sharing the gift of life,” says SANBS communications manager Ms. Vanessa Raju.
For more information on how to become a blood donor and to find your nearest donor centre, visit www.sanbs.org.
Blood drives open to the public on the 14th of June:
The Bridge, Game Foyer
Somerset East, Library Hall
Melbro Wholesale Pty (Ltd)
Cleary Park Centre
Walker Drive Fixed Site
Port Elizabeth HQ
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