The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) says that it has less than three (3) days blood stock currently on hand as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospitals has stretched blood supplies in the country.
SANBS has also been experiencing poor collection due to, among other challenges, low donor turnout to mobile blood drives and donor centres.
“While we continue to contend with declining blood stocks, the demand from patients has not slowed down,” warned Dr Karin van den Berg, SANBS Medical Director.
“Lifesaving surgeries and the treatment of other illnesses still demands that we consistently supply much-needed blood products. The situation is critical and could become dire if we fail to collect sufficient Group O blood.”
With the shortage, the SANBS says that it once again calls on donors to help save thousands of lives.
“Our donors have always been incredibly generous during times of struggle and we need their help to ensure that our blood supply stabilises once more,” said van den Berg.
SANBS Extends Donor Centre Operating Hours in Hopes of Mitigating Shortage
“Hospital demand for blood has been at its highest and the pressure from low donor turnout has not helped the situation at all. This is why, where possible, the SANBS has extended its donor centres’ operating hours for the foreseeable future, to allow donors more hours in the day to make their donations,” reads a statement from SANBS.
“We commend the donors who have kept us going despite the current social uncertainties and general social anxiety that plagues many people at the moment. We especially implore donors with O-positive and O-negative blood to make their donation as they can make the biggest immediate difference to the situation we face right now,” van den Berg concluded.
The SANBS is also appealing to the public to make venues available for blood drives. Suitable venues include spaces accessible and open to the public.
“One blood donation gives recipients a second chance with their loved ones. Another Christmas to remember, another summer holiday at the beach, another birthday celebration,” SANBS adds.
To become a blood donor, you must:
- Be between the ages of 16 and 75 years.
- Weigh 50kg or more.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Consider your blood safe for transfusion to a patient.
- Commit to donating blood regularly.
Anyone willing to donate blood can find out more about where they can donate by visiting www.sanbs.org.za.