Urgent call for blood donations in Western Cape amid the decline in blood supply. MATTHEW JORDAAN
Urgent call for blood donations in Western Cape amid the decline in blood supply. MATTHEW JORDAAN

Urgent call for blood donations in Western Cape amid the decline in blood supply

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published Oct 16, 2021

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Cape Town - As the province continues to confront waves of socio-economic distress, the call to preserve the lives of those experiencing life-threatening conditions has never been greater, given the decline in blood supply.

The Western Cape Blood Services (WCBS) reported that the province's blood supply for type O blood stock levels has severely depleted as a result of the pandemic's closure of donation facilities at schools and businesses, as well as the winter months that have passed.

Head of marketing and public relations Marike Gevers said that the shortage of the O blood group adds severe pressure, given that the O-blood is the universal blood group.

“At the moment, we are experiencing a critical blood shortage in the O blood groups as we only have a 1-day supply. We put a lot of emphasis on the O blood groups as it is the universal blood group. O- can be given to all blood groups, and O+ can be given to all positive blood groups.”

“Other reasons for a shortage of blood supply include the winter months, as people suffer from colds and flu and subsequently are unable to donate blood. The Covid-19 pandemic also added extra pressure on the blood stocks. The cold weather also affects the turnout at blood donation clinics.”

Consultant Anaesthetist at Groote Schuur Hospital Dr Matthew Gibbs said that given the lifting of restrictions on alcohol, there'd been an increase in the amount of trauma resulting in patients requiring more blood transfusion.

“The lifting of restrictions on alcohol has given rise to more cases in trauma units, and with each lifting of the ban last year and this year, there have been a lot more patients requiring blood, causing a domino effect on patients who are presenting in for elective surgery.

“This becomes tricky as one needs to start prioritising with the blood supply that is in stock, and this becomes tricky. Given that there’s a lot of catching up to do post-Covid-19, the donated blood has never been more vital due to the surge in elective surgeries taking place,” said Gibbs.

While blood is vital to every person living in this country, especially those who need a transfusion, South African National Blood Service spokesperson Khensani Mahlangu said that blood transfusions can often be the difference between life and death.

“From the blood of donors who have recovered from Covid-19, convalescent plasma can be used to treat patients with illnesses. Convalescent plasma has long been used as a way to treat critically ill patients as the plasma, which contains neutralising antibodies, has been central to the therapy of patients by significantly improving their clinical status.”

“Thousands of patients would die daily if there is insufficient quality blood in stock. When one donates blood, they give patients the gift money cannot buy or science cannot create. Anything that you, as an individual, can do to make a difference can and will change the lives of so many people in need,” said Mahlangu.

WCBS is appealing to all donors to donate blood, as blood cannot be manufactured. Therefore a great reliance is on voluntary blood donations to ensure a safe blood supply for all.

“If you are between the ages of 16 and 75, weigh 50kg or more, are in good general health, lead a safe sexual lifestyle, you should be able to donate. It only takes 30 minutes of your time, and you can save up to three lives with one donation,” said Gevers.

Weekend Argus

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