Cape Town - Easter is synonymous with family time and a break from the hustle and bustle, but it is also a time when death stalks our roads and life-saving blood donations are critical.
While most of us are gearing up for the long weekend, it is important to be aware that our emergency services are in dire need of a steady supply of safe, fresh blood.
Recently the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) started a mass blood drive to recruit new donors and ensure there is sufficient stock of safe blood available to meet the demand which peaks over holidays in South Africa.
The SANBS is especially calling on first-time donors and lapsed donors who know that their blood type is Group O, to donate.
Decia Moruane, 28, a firefighter at Working on Fire programme’s Mdala team, is proud to be a regular blood donor.
For Denecia donating blood ahead of the Easter holidays is an opportunity to help save lives.
‘‘I am glad that somehow I am saving someone’s life. That makes me feel grateful,’’ she said.
Moruane regularly encourages fellow crew members on the Working on Fire expanded public works programme to donate as well.
Currently, the country's safe blood supply is enough to last 4.9 days - roughly from now until Easter Monday - but only if there is no abnormally high demand.
“Currently less than 1% of South Africans donate blood even though it demands little more than giving up 30 minutes of their time at least twice a year,” says Silungile Mlambo, Chief Marketing Officer for the SANBS.
“That means that we often experience shortages which place lives at risk; lives of babies born prematurely, lives of accident victims, lives of women giving birth and the lives of people fighting cancer.”
“We are therefore calling on anyone who has never donated or has not donated in over a year to heed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plea and to become an agent of change and lend a hand by becoming a blood donor.”
Mlambo appealed to regular donors to spread the message and recruit new and lapsed donors – and especially those with blood type O, the most common type in South Africa.
The SANBS will host blood drives around the country to collect the blood, including in Vilakazi Street, once home to Nobel Peace Prize laureates, President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“Holidays are unfortunately the time when we traditionally run short of blood because we are not able to host our regular drives at schools and university campuses. But this year, the SANBS wants to start turning things around. We want to lend a hand, as President Ramaphosa asked us to do, and ensure that there is enough safe blood available in the country. The #NewBlood campaign is asking you to lend us a hand by becoming a regular blood donor,” says Mlambo.
Visit www.sanbs.org.za or call 0800 11 90 31 to find out where to donate.
Tips when donating blood:
* Eat a substantial meal 3-4 hours before donating blood.
* Drink lots of fluids before, during and after donation.
* Take it easy on the exercise after donation.