South Africa’s National Blood Service (SANBS) has warned that blood stock levels will drop during the winter holiday period, calling on more people to come forward as donors. The nonprofit aims to maintain a five-day reserve for each blood group, but struggles to keep levels above three days.
We are in the midst of a blood supply crisis as levels continue to drop steadily. The cold weather has affected donation levels, which is why we’re calling on everyone [those] “Willing and able to donate a unit of blood,” said Simi Prithvi Raj, Executive Director of Donor Services, Marketing, Communication and Brand at SANBS.
The closure of schools and universities due to holidays is partly responsible for the drop in donations, said Khonsani Mahlangu, a spokesperson for SANBS, as many blood drives are being conducted at these institutions.
She explained, “Winter is usually a problem for us because the bulk of the blood that is collected comes from…universities, as well as high schools…but that has also been exacerbated by the weather now and the flu season.”
“If you show any symptoms of infection, like a cold or the flu, you can’t donate blood, and that also drops our numbers even further.”
SANBS must collect at least 3,500 units of blood each day to meet patients’ needs. Mahlangu said blood donations have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic and have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
“All over the world, and especially in Africa, blood transfusion services are struggling a little bit… We are trying to work our way up again, but unfortunately this year I don’t think we’ve seen any numbers over five days. [reserve]Or even in five days.
“The best thing that could happen is we get new donors, or any struggling donor who might have started donating two years ago might consider coming back. That would really help.”
SANBS operates in every province except the Western Cape Province, which has its own services. with approaching Mandela Day On July 18, when people around the world take action to benefit their communities, the nonprofit is urging South Africans to volunteer their time in donor centres.
Less than 1% of South Africans are active blood donors, Mahlangu said. These people carry a “big load”, supplying most of the country.
One such person was recently celebrated by SANBS for making the 281st blood donation. Dirk van der Westhuizen, a former judge living in Bela-Bela, Limpopo, became the first blood donor in the late 1960s while living in Edenville, Free State.
“One of my close friends told me in 1968 to donate blood… I said, ‘No, I’m very, very afraid of needles.'” He told me, “It hurts so much more to remove a pimple,” I wouldn’t even feel the needle. The rest is history Daily Maverick.
Van der Westhuizen has been awarded nine medals for his service – one for every 25 donations – and soon his tenth will be awarded.
He said: “Every time I donate blood, the next day you feel like a young man.” “I don’t know why, but it just is. You feel very, very good the next day.” DM