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South African National Blood Service facing severe shortages, in need of blood donations

A BLOOD donation gives patients a second chance with their loved ones. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

A BLOOD donation gives patients a second chance with their loved ones. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Published Apr 22, 2021


The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is facing severe blood stock shortages, to the extent that there may not be sufficient available blood for patients in need.

The SANBS needs to collect 3 500 units of blood a day and is urgently appealing to all potential and existing blood donors that are due to donate, to visit a SANBS blood donation site, to donate their precious unit of blood.

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A blood donation gives patients a second chance with their loved ones. Another Christmas to remember, another summer holiday at the beach, another birthday celebration.

“It really is an awesome thing to do,” says blood recipient Bonolo Mashilo. She received blood on May 22 due to anaemia. Thanks to South Africa’s dedicated pool of blood donors, Bonolo was able to get the blood she needed to survive.

Mashilo – and thousands of others with life-threatening conditions – join the SANBS encouraging South Africans to become regular blood donors.

Silungile Mlambo, the SANBS’s chief marketing officer says, “The best gift you can give anyone is the gift of life. We know that South Africans have huge hearts and we call on them to fully embrace the spirit of this year’s World Blood Donor Day theme, “Safe blood for all”.

“Out of South Africa’s population of 56 million people, only about 1% donate blood regularly. This blood is used by every person living in this country who needs a transfusion during an operation or for emergencies during childbirth,” Mlambo says.

To become a blood donor, you must:

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  • 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.
  • Commit to donating blood regularly.

There is a common misconception that most of the blood donated in South Africa goes to accident victims. This is not the case. Here is a rough breakdown from the SANBS of where the blood it collects is used:

  • 28% is used to treat cancer and aplastic anaemia.
  • 27% is used during childbirth.
  • 21% is used for scheduled surgery.
  • 10% is used for paediatric care.
  • 6% goes to laboratories.
  • 6% is used for orthopaedic care.
  • 4% is used for accident or trauma victims.

To find out more about where you can donate blood, visit or call 0800 11 90 31. Connect with us on Twitter (@theSANBS), Facebook (@SANBS) and Instagram (@thesanbs).

The SANBS is appealing to the public to make venues available for blood drives. Suitable venues include spaces accessible and open to the public.

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