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Critical blood shortage vs high demand for blood

COVID-19 restrictions have severely limited the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) ability to collect adequate blood stocks - which resulted in critical blood supply shortages.

At a time when people are understandably focussed on staying safe and avoiding contracting the COVID-19 infection, little concern is available for much else.

“We are experiencing a high demand for blood from hospitals and are in dire need of blood donations across the country,” said Silungile Mlambo, SANBS Chief Marketing Officer. Our Group O blood stocks have dropped significantly and we are appealing to all South Africans to donate a unit of blood in aid of those who need blood.”

Blood Group O in high demand

Blood Group O is considered the universal blood group because anyone – regardless of blood type – can receive type O blood.

SANBS aims to collect an average of 5 000 units of blood every day, nationally.

“It is through planned, sustainable blood drives at companies, organisations and institutions that we are able to achieve this collection target,” said Zikhona Ruiters, SANBS Donor Relations Practitioner in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole.

“We are appealing to the public to make venues available to us for mobile blood drives. Suitable venues include spaces accessible and open to the public.”

The safety of donors, staff and overall South African community is of utmost importance to the SANBS and extensive precautionary measures have been taken to ensure donor safety.

Blood donation is still safe during this time and persons confirmed with COVID-19 infection or at risk will be deferred from donation as follows:

. Individuals who have travelled overseas will be deferred for 28 days from date of return from these countries.

. Individuals with a confirmed diagnosis with COVID-19 infection will be deferred for 28 days from date of complete clearance of symptoms.

. Individuals who have had close contact with anyone with confirmed or probable COVID-19 infection will be deferred for 28 days from the last date of contact.

. Anyone exhibiting flu-symptoms on day of donation will be deferred for 7 days.

Blood shortage - healthcare danger

“The current shortages pose a real danger to the healthcare systems in our country. There are many people who rely on these life-saving donations to remain healthy and to lead normal lives,” said Mlambo.

It is important to note that individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 through the blood donation process, or via a blood transfusion since respiratory viruses are generally not known to be transmissible by donation or transfusion. SANBS appeals to willing and eligible donors to visit their nearest mobile and fixed donor centres. To be eligible to donate blood, you need to:

. Be free of any cold and flu symptoms.

. Be between the ages of 16 and 75

. Weigh more than 50kg.

. Be in good health.

. Consider your blood safe for transfusion to a patient.

. Lead a healthy lifestyle.

  • For more information contact our call centre on 0800 11 9031 or visit our website on www.sanbs.org.za.

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