World Blood Donor Day is held on June 14 each year, and is a great way to help your fellow man – simply donate a unit of your blood at one of the many blood drives taking place on the day.
Your blood donation can be separated into its component parts, including plasma and platelets, and just that one unit of blood can be used to save more than three people’s lives!
Unfortunately, “less than one percent of South Africans are active blood donors,” says the South African National Blood Service (SANBS).
“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.”
So why should you donate blood?
Blood is needed for critical, life-saving treatments – and it could be you who needs it! According to the World Health Organization, “transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year.
“It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care and during the emergency response to man-made and natural disasters.”
The SABS’s chief marketing officer, Silungile Mlambo, says, “our country faces constant blood shortages. It really is critical for the SANBS to replenish blood stocks at this time of year, with the school holidays just around the corner. This will inevitably cause a spike in the demand for blood transfusions.”
Blood supplies vary constantly, and you can check how much of your blood type is available at any given time by visiting the SANBS site. There is also information on where you can donate blood in your area.
Do you qualify as a blood donor?
The short answer is probably, YES! You have to be between 16 and 65, weigh more than 50kg and lead a sexually safe lifestyle.
“You can donate if you are healthy and lead a low-risk lifestyle,” says the SANBS site. “Healthy means that you feel well and can perform normal activities. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, healthy also means that you are being treated and the condition is under control.”
There is a level of honesty expected and you must “consider your blood safe for transfusion to a patient.”
So, are you ready to roll up your sleeve?