With blood stock levels at a critically low level, the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is appealing to the public to donate blood before the Christmas weekend.
SANBS chief executive Ravi Reddy said there had been a decrease in blood donations during the holiday period because “we do not have access to schools, universities and many corporates which traditionally make up a large proportion of the sites where regular blood donors donate”.
“This causes a decrease in blood donations whilst the usage of blood in hospitals only decreases slightly,” he noted.
Reddy added: “While the slight decrease is due to fewer elective surgeries that take place, all other required blood transfusions continue over this period.”
Ravi added blood donations over the past two years had been impacted due to the Covid pandemic, as well as the lockdown restrictions that limited access to regular blood drive venues.
According to the SANBS, to become a blood donor, one must be between the ages of 16 and 75, weigh 50kg or more, be in good health and consider your blood safe for transfusion to a patient.
“We have blood drives planned +around the country in our fixed donor centres and shopping malls,” he said.
Lead consultant in training, education and advisory services at the SANBS Dr Thabiso Rapodile said the blood bank collected 3 000 units of blood on a good day with efforts being made to collect more blood plasma to treat people needing clotting factor support.
“Plasma is the liquid component of blood that contains antibodies, clotting factors and other proteins and makes up 55% of the body’s blood volume,” he said.
The SANBS also supplies blood plasma to laboratories and several biomedical companies for research.