Western Cape running out of blood

Dané Dooge

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) urgently needs donors to come forward, especially blood group O donors.

SANBS announced last week that they are running low on stock.

According to the official SANBS website, blood supply in South Africa is at just 1,8 days of group O stock, equating to less than 2 000 units. This is extremely low compared to a usual and healthy blood stock of 5 000 units or five days.

In the Western Cape, the Western Cape Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS) stated that they only have enough blood for three days.

According to Marlize van der Merwe, public relations officer at the WPBTS, an ideal blood supply for optimum functioning would be between five and seven days. Even though the WPBTS is currently in a shortage of blood with only three days’ supply left, they will still be able to meet the demand for blood in the province.

The WPBTS is dependant on the different tertiary universities in the Western Cape for approximately 4,5% of their blood supply.

Factors like the recurring #FeesMustFall protests on various university campuses remains a worrying factor for the WPBTS. As these protest demonstrations usually occur during end of year examinations, they tend to prevent tertiary blood drive clinics from taking place during October and November. Obtaining enough blood during these months is crucial to meet the high demand for blood in December.

“WPBTS is prepared in the instance of #FeesMustFall protests occurring again. The service is in close contact with representatives from the various tertiary institutions,” said Van der Merwe.

In 2015, the WPBTS was negatively affected by the #FeesMustFall protests, as they had to cancel and close tertiary clinics earlier than scheduled. If clinics are cancelled ahead of schedule, the WPBTS struggles to meet the target of 700 units of blood per day needed by Western Cape hospitals.

“It is of course not ideal to cancel clinics, as it has a direct impact on the Western Cape blood supply, but the safety of our donors and staff are of utmost importance. WPBTS has emergency clinics on stand-by if we have to cancel clinics on short notice.”

Blood can be donated by most individuals, therefore the WPBTS encourages all students to participate.

Blood donation only takes 20 to 30 minutes every 56 days.

Any healthy individual between the ages of 16 and 65, weighing over 50kg and leads a healthy and safe sexual lifestyle, is allowed to donate.

*Donate on 22 September from 10:00-15:00 at Eikestad Mall, and Friday 29 September from 10:30-15:00 at Kruiskerk.


Pierre Muller donating with a smile. Photo: Busi Buthelezi


When and where can you donate next?

Friday 22 September from 10:00-15:00 at Eikestad Mall.

Friday 29 September from 10:30-15:00 at Kruiskerk.

Remember to eat a balanced meal four hours before donating blood.

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