Kashiefa Ajam

In two days the SA National Blood Service (SANBS) will run out of stock, unless South Africans donate and help save a life.

The SANBS has issued an urgent appeal to all regular donors as well as new donors to donate blood as soon as possible. The daily target of five days’ blood stocks is only possible with 3 000 units collected per day. However, since the start of winter the SANBS has not made its target. This occurs every year because of school and university holidays and the added impact of flu and cold weather.

If the SANBS was unable to exceed its usual target of 3 000 units “then the simple answer is that patients dependent on transfusions will die”.

Vanessa Raju, communications manager at the SANBS said to recover to a five-day blood stock level they need to collect about 5 000 units per day for the next seven days. “This shortage has resulted in many specialists having patients in waiting for blood transfusions and SANBS is unable to meet this demand.”.

She said blood needed for cancer patients, such as those undergoing chemotherapy and those who have gynaecological complications, and accident victims, cannot be put off because they are emergency cases.

Raju said Group O blood is most affected with only 1.5 days in stock. Group O is most in demand as it is the universal blood and can be given to patients of any other blood group in cases of emergency.

“Your one unit of blood can save up to three lives. This is also a plea to all South Africans.”

The minimum requirements for donors are that they must be South Africans between the ages of 16 and 65, weigh more than 50kg, be in good health and live a sexually safe lifestyle.

“SANBS would like to thank all regular blood donors who are silent heroes and we urge you to continue donating blood regularly,” said Raju.

l See www.SANBS.org.za or call 0800 11 90 31.