The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is appealing to South Africans to donate blood amid critically low blood stock levels.
Following months of chronic blood shortages, SANBS is calling on all current and potential donors to help replenish blood stocks which currently stand at just 2.2 days. To ensure sufficient supply to all patients when needed, the blood stock level needs to be at 5 days.
“The national health system is currently in danger of being crippled by the blood shortages that we are experiencing. The truth is that we have seen a decline in donations and this immediately puts thousands of lives at risk for as long as we cannot meet the demand from hospitals,” said SANBS medical director Dr Karin van den Berg,.
This shortage may potentially lead to not only the need to cancel some elective surgeries and any non-emergency procedures but also in restricting the supply of blood products to patients with chronic illnesses requiring frequent transfusions such as cancer patients.
“Maintaining a safe and adequate blood supply is critical for the nation’s healthcare delivery and an imperative to allow the medical community to continue to save lives. If blood products aren’t readily available, elective surgeries may need to be postponed and in a worst-case scenario, when a hospital doesn’t receive required blood products, even crucial procedures may need to be delayed,” Dr van den Berg added.
The good news is that anyone in good health, who meet the basic criteria for blood donation can donate blood. Anyone regardless of whether vaccinated or not can donate blood. There is no waiting period after receiving a vaccination, as long as you are in good health on the day of donation.
“We appeal to South Africans to please donate at any of the blood donation sites running throughout the week. Having enough blood tomorrow won’t help anyone today and we rely on the ongoing support and commitment from the public not only to donate blood but to also come forward to host blood drives where they can,” Dr van den Berg concluded.
The SANBS follows strict Covid-19 protocols for the safety of all donors and SANBS staff.
To become a blood donor, you must:
- Be between the ages of 16 and 75 years.
- Weigh 50kg or more.
- Be in good health.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Consider your blood safe for transfusion to a patient.
To find out more about where you can donate blood, visit www.sanbs.org.za or call 0800 11 90 31. Connect with SANBS on Twitter (@theSANBS), Facebook (@SANBS), and Instagram (@thesanbs).