South Africans urged to donate blood

APRIL 25, 2017
South Africans urged to donate blood

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) has made an earnest appeal for South Africans to step forward and donate blood in order to save people’s lives.  

SANBS National Marketing Manager Silungile Mlambo said the national blood supply is currently at just 3.0 days’ Group O stock, amounting to just over 3 000 units of O blood available around the country.

“The situation is critical. We need South Africans – active donors, lapsed donors and potential donors to stand together right now to bolster the national blood stock,” Mlambo said.

She said the upcoming long weekend, when many South Africans drive long distances and road accidents increase, will certainly put additional pressure on the national blood supply.

However, Mlambo said that incidents of trauma make up only a fraction of the demand for blood.

“While we need sufficient blood stock to cope with periods such as the long weekends, by far the greatest proportion of blood is required in other situations such as in childbirth and for cancer patients.

“So many people in life-threatening situations require blood. It’s what saves that haemorrhaging mother’s life, so that she can raise and love the baby she has just brought into the world. It’s what saves someone suffering complications during major surgery… It’s what helps that cancer patient endure and survive treatment,” said Mlambo.

Mlambo also appealed to South Africans to become regular donors by donating blood four times a year.

A little blood goes a long way

To meet the daily demand for blood, SANBS must collect an average of 3 000 units of blood a day. When blood is donated, a single “whole blood” donation may help as many as three patients. 

Each unit of blood can be separated into its various components including red cells, plasma and platelets, and given to patients with different needs. 

A unit of blood is also used to help advance the science of blood-related medicine worldwide if it is used for research purposes. 

To become a safe blood donor you must:

  • Weigh at least 50kg
  • Be between the ages of 16 and 65
  • Be in good health
  • Lead a sexually safe lifestyle
  • Consider your blood safe for transfusion to a patient
  • Commit to donating blood regularly

Donating blood is safe 

The SANBS, one of the premier blood services in the world, assured that one can’t get HIV from donating blood.

“All needles and finger prick lancets are new, sterile and used only once.  After use, each lancet and needle is placed in a special medical-waste container and incinerated. Trained staff collect all blood donations and very strict protocols are followed to ensure that all blood donation procedures are safe and hygienic.”

Main blood groups

The two most important blood group systems are ABO and Rhesus (Rh).

Within the ABO system, people can be four types: O, A, B or AB. Within the Rh system, people can be either Rh positive or Rh negative. 

Each system is inherited independently of the other and therefore there are eight main groups.

To find out more about donating blood and to locate your nearest SANBS donor centre, visit sanbs.org.za or call 0800 11 90 31. - SAnews.gov.za