SA blood stock levels are improving but are still under pressure, says SANBS

South Africa - Pretoria - 05 May 2022. Sister Tebogo Masebe at one of SANBS stations in Ga-Rankuwa.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

South Africa - Pretoria - 05 May 2022. Sister Tebogo Masebe at one of SANBS stations in Ga-Rankuwa.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 19, 2023


Johannesburg - Since the beginning of the year, the demand for blood has been consistently higher than collections, especially for blood groups O and B, according to the South African National Blood Service (SANBS).

On Friday, SANBS said that South African blood stocks were slowly increasing but remained lower than the five-day cover required.

"We would like to thank our donors for increased collections, but we are not in the safe zone yet. We urge everyone, including active donors, lapsed donors, and potential donors, to continue donating consistently to ensure ongoing adequate national stocks," said Thandi Mosupye, SANBS Senior Manager: Marketing, Communication, and Brand.

In order to adequately cater for the country’s blood requirements, an allocation of 3 500 units of blood is needed daily to serve the needs of hospitals and clinical requirements. SANBS said that the five days' supply on average was the minimum safe supply needed in the blood bank.

As of Friday, SANBS was collecting enough blood supply for three days, an improvement from 2.7 days last week but remained under the national requirement of five days.

"It is imperative to maintain a sturdy blood supply. When stock levels drop to 2.5 days or below, restrictions on blood orders are a likely eventuality, and we are relieved that we are not there yet. This process is implemented when blood bank stocks are at the critical level of 2.5 days and below," said Mosupye.

SANBS said that it has 83 blood banks that support close to 500 transfusion facilities.

"In order to allow access to this life-saving treatment without delay in a crisis, SANBS has also implemented around 450 emergency refrigerators that are stocked with only Group O red cells (the universal blood group that can go to groups O, A, B, and AB)—to be used in life-threatening bleeding situations," SANBS said.

The organisation said that restrictions on orders are only applied in non-emergency situations and in consultation with doctors.

"In non-emergency situations, clinicians have time to wait for a crossmatch, and the patient can receive blood from a corresponding blood group—not putting further strain on the scarce group O stock. This way, the universal group O units that can be reserved for emergency and other group O patients," SANBS said.

The service said that blood stocks were still below stable levels.

To alleviate the situation, SANBS is appealing to everyone who is eligible to donate blood and willing to help save lives to find their nearest donation centre by visiting our website,, or calling 0800 11 90 31, or going to @theSANBS on all major social media platforms.

To be eligible to donate blood, you have to be between 16 and 75 years old and weigh more than 50kg.

The Star

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