According to the SA National Blood Service (SANBS, less than 1% of South Africans are active blood donors. A unit of blood only lasts 42 days after donation and, for this reason, it is important for blood donors to donate regularly. Donors can give blood as often as every eight weeks.
Every unit of blood can save a minimum of three lives as blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets. SANBS aims to collect 3000 units of blood per day to ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply in the health care system,
The universal access to safe blood is the lifeline for the healthcare system of any nation. As South Africans, we can all be proud of our dedicated and selfless voluntary donors who regularly donate blood to save lives of thousands of our people every year.
If it was not for blood donors, life-saving medical treatment for children with life threatening anaemia, trauma victims, women with pregnancy related complications, organ transplants, bone marrow transplants, complicated surgical procedures and cancer treatments would not be possible.
The differences in human blood are due to the presence or absence of certain protein molecules called antigens and antibodies. The antigens are located on the surface of the red blood cells and the antibodies are in the blood plasma. Individuals have different types and combinations of these molecules.
The blood group you belong to depends on what you have inherited from your parents. To date, more than 20 genetically determined blood group systems exist, but the AB0 and Rh blood group systems are the most important ones used for blood transfusions.
Not all blood groups are compatible with each other. Mixing incompatible blood groups leads to blood clumping, or agglutination, which is dangerous for individuals.
All donors belong to one of four blood groups: A, B, AB or O. You are also classified as either Rh positive or Rh negative. There are therefore eight different main blood groups. Not all blood groups are compatible with each other and the success of modern transfusion medicine depends on classifying and matching donors and patients correctly. Group O blood is known as the universal blood type, as it can be given to patients of any blood group.
More information at sanbs.org.za.
Minimum Requirements to be a Blood Donor:
- You are between the ages of 16 and 75 years old, for first time donors.
- You weigh a minimum of 50 kgs (and platelets a minimum of 55 kgs)
- You are in good health.
- You lead a low risk lifestyle.
- You consider your blood safe for transfusion.
- You have had a balanced meal within four hours of donating blood.
- You have not donated blood in the last 56 days (and platelets in the last 14 days.)
- Your pulse is between 50-100 regular beats per minute.
- Your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) (180/100mmHg) and above 100 systolic (first number) and above 60 diastolic (se-cond number) (100/60mmHg).
- Your haemoglobin level is 12.5 g/dL or above.