Mzansi in serious need of blood

By Esau Dlamini

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is currently facing a critical shortage of blood supplies, causing hospitals across the country to be in dire need of donations.

The restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic have severely limited the ability of the SANBS to collect adequate blood stocks, especially from schools, colleges, community centers, and corporate blood drives.

In an effort to raise awareness of this critical situation, we recently had a Q&A session with Katrina Makamo, a Donor Relations Practitioner based in Johannesburg.

Here are the highlights of the interview:

Mapepeza: What is the aim of SANBS?

Katrina: The aim of SANBS is to collect and supply the country with safe blood.

Mapepeza: Who is eligible to donate blood? What are the requirements? Are foreigners eligible?

Katrina: You must be between the ages of 16 and 75 years old and weigh a minimum of 50kgs (for platelets, a minimum of 55kgs). You must be in good health, lead a low-risk lifestyle, and consider your blood safe for transfusion. You can’t have donated blood in the last 56 days (or platelets in the last 14 days). Foreigners may be eligible to donate if they have been in South Africa for more than 3 years and have not been to their country or a malaria high-risk country in more than 3 years.

Mapepeza: Where can one donate blood?

Katrina: There are over 81 donor centers nationally and over 7500 mobile blood drives.

Mapepeza: What steps does one need to take once they decide to donate blood?

Katrina: A person can visit our website, take a quick quiz to check their eligibility, and then go to a local donor center if they qualify.

Mapepeza: What can one expect when they go to donate blood?

Katrina: You will be required to complete a Donor Questionnaire and have a one-on-one interview with a nurse to ensure you understand the questions and the importance of being honest. Your blood pressure and hemoglobin (iron) levels will also be checked.

Mapepeza: Are there different ways of donating blood?

Katrina: Yes, you can donate whole blood, plasma, or platelets.

Mapepeza: Are there any risks associated with donating blood?

Katrina: Blood donation is generally safe, but some people may feel lightheaded after donating. The Donor Questionnaire and interview are done to ensure you are fit to donate.

Mapepeza: Is there a charge for donating blood?

Katrina: No, medical aid pays for it and the government pays at public hospitals.

Mapepeza: What precautions does one need to take after donating blood?

Katrina: We advise against participating in strenuous activities like running a marathon or lifting heavy weights.

Mapepeza: How long does it take for the body to replace donated blood?

Katrina: It takes about 56 days to ensure enough time has passed to regenerate the red cells from the last donation.

Mapepeza: Under what conditions will one not be allowed to donate blood?

Katrina: If a person has HIV infection, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, an acute fever, is pregnant, has cancer, has recently undergone surgery, has recently consumed alcohol, has experienced unexplained weight loss, has recently received an ear or body piercing or tattoo, they will not be allowed to donate.

Mapepeza: How much blood does SANBS need to collect daily to ensure adequate supply?

Katrina: About 5000 units

For more information about the SANBS,  visit their website or call 0800 11 90 31. Follow them @SANBS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Be the first to comment

Share your input on this article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.