Picture: Matthew Jordaan
Roas crashes over the festive season have placed a severe strain on the country’s blood banks’ stocks.

This comes as Transport Minister Blade Nzimande revealed that nearly 800 people have already been killed on SA’s roads since December 1.

Road deaths have increased by 16% this year compared to the same period last year.

According to the SA National Blood Services (SANBS), less than 1% of South Africans were active blood donors, prompting an appeal to improve blood stocks.

The Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS) said its stock levels would last for three days while nationally, blood stocks available were only enough to sustain demand for two days.

Spokesperson for WPBTS, Michelle Vermeulen said: “In the Western Cape we have blood that will last us for three days, and on average, we supply hospitals with about 700 litres per day.

“If mobile clinics do not go out to collect blood, people tend not to be proactive.

“We depend on people’s generosity.”

To function optimally, blood banks need at least between 4-5 days of stock to save hundreds of lives.

On top of the regular blood transfusions carried out during childbirth, scheduled medical operations including cancer patients, victims of trauma incidents also need blood transfusions during this period.

Vermeulen said the stock levels were partly due to regular donors from tertiary institutions who were away on holiday at this period and that put a strain on blood stock availability.

“But we urge people to always look for alternative sites where they can donate blood and continue the flow of supply,” she said.

The SA National Blood Services’ (SANBS) Ivor Hugo said a unit of blood only lasted 42 days after donation and, for this reason, it was important for blood donors to donate regularly.

“Every unit of blood can save a minimum of three lives as blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets,” said Hugo.

The blood services called on regular donors and potential donors who meet the minimum requirements to visit their nearest blood donor clinic and donate blood.

The Western Cape Emergency Medical and Forensic Pathology Services said donating blood was a lifesaving act.

“People underestimate the value of donating blood, yet 80% of people would need a blood transfusion or blood product at some stage in their lives.

“We urge people to get more involved in blood donation,” spokesperson Robert Daniels said.

While donors from all blood groups and communities were important, there was a particular need for donors with blood types O to donate as stocks of these were more vulnerable to shortfalls.

Group O blood is known as the universal type as it can be given to patients of any blood group.

Those eligible to donate should be older than 16 years, weigh more than 50kg, are in good health and lead a safe lifestyle.

They are also encouraged to call 0215076300 or use social media to get in touch with WPBTS on Facebook and Twitter.

Weekend Argus