SANBS needs five days' blood supply ahead of holiday season

SANBS said the latest campaign's goal was to reach five days' stock before the festive season kicked off.

FILE: The festive season puts added pressure on the available stock. Picture: Kevin Brandt/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) has launched an awareness campaign that aims to increase blood donations ahead of the holiday season.

Speaking to 702's Bongani Bengwa on Tuesday, SANBS communications specialist Khensani Mahlangu said the latest campaign's goal was to reach five days' stock before the festive season kicked off.

"On average, we need to collect 3,500 units of blood daily and, unfortunately at the moment, we are falling short of that. So, when we do have five days of stock available, we know that we would be able to match the demand with our supplies," she said.

Mahlangu said this also gave them a safety net in instances where they needed to dispense more blood than usual.

The festive season also puts added pressure on the available stock: "We have the inside understanding that patients who receive the transfusion often receive them under critical conditions and this is why we launched this campaign," she said.

Fewer than 1% of South Africans are blood donors, yet eight in 10 people will need a blood transfusion at some point, Mahlangu said.

"We only have 1% of South Africans who are regular donors so this puts us constantly under pressure to supply the blood that is needed."

COVID-19 has also impacted blood donations negatively. "Each year, we lose a big portion of our donor panel due to age and illness and since the beginning of this pandemic, we have lost about 120,000 regular donors. With elective surgeries coming back into full swing, we're finding that people are not visiting donor centres and where they are visiting, we are still falling short because we are not allowed to access schools and universities and that's where we collect the bulk of our blood. So, the pressure is really on."

Asked about who can donate blood, Mahlangu said SANBS was looking for healthy persons between 16 and 65 years old.

As for those who can't donate, she said: "There are a number of people who maybe lead unhealthy lifestyles or people who operate heavy machinery, so your blood wouldn't necessarily be unsafe to transfer to a patient but you'd be excluded from donation on a day where you would be operating heavy machinery."

Mahlangu adds that there was a list of illnesses that would exclude people from donating blood. People who want to become donors but are on medication can visit or call the SANBS to find out if they are eligible.

WHO CAN DONATE BLOOD?

  • You are between the ages of 16 and 65 years old, for first time donors.

  • You weigh a minimum of 50kg (and platelets a minimum of 55 kgs).

  • You are in good health.

  • You lead a low-risk lifestyle.

  • You consider your blood safe for transfusion.

  • You have had a balanced meal within four hours of donating blood.

  • You have not donated blood in the last 56 days (and platelets in the last 14 days.)

  • Your pulse is between 50-100 regular beats per minute.

  • Your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) (180/100mmHg) and above 100 systolic (first number) and above 60 diastolic (second number) (100/60mmHg).

  • Your haemoglobin level is 12.5 g/dL or above.

_Visit https://sanbs.org.za/ to find out how you can make a difference. _