Save a life by donating blood
Did you know June is Blood Donor month? This year the campaign will focus on blood donation in emergencies under the them: “What can I do?” with the secondary message: “Give blood. Give now. Give often.”
Blood can’t be artificially manufactured, therefore blood donation services such as the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS) relies completely on voluntary blood donors and encourages all eligible donors to donate.
“There’s a need for new blood donors because the Western Cape has a population of about 6.2 million people, but less than 1.5% donates blood,” said Marlize van der Merwe, WPBTS Spokesperson.
World Blood Donor Day is commemorated annually on 14 June in a global celebration of the millions of people throughout the world who give their blood on a voluntary, unpaid basis to save the lives of those in need.
6 Reasons why you should donate blood
According to WPBTS there are many good reasons to donate blood which include:
1.Blood saves lives
Every unit of blood donated can be separated into its basic parts and used to help improve and save the lives of up to 4 recipients.
2.There’s no substitute
There’s no known substitute for blood and it can’t be replicated due to its complexity.
3.Blood is in short supply
The need for blood is unpredictable, which means that we’re always 1 day away from running out. While 75% of our population are potential recipients, less than 1.2% are donors, and only approximately 16 000 donors give blood more than 4 times a year.
4.It's a good cause
Giving doesn’t get much better than this.
5.You could be next
It's not a nice thing to consider, but the fact is that you, a close friend, or a family member could well be the next car accident victim or surgery candidate requiring a transfusion.
6.The process is safe and quick
Sterile, disposable equipment is always used, so there’s no risk of infection. The entire process takes just 20 minutes, after which you can resume your daily activities. And finally, you won’t even miss the one unit (475 ml) of blood donated, because it’s quickly reproduced and replaced by your body.
You can donate blood if you:
- are between 16 and 65 years old,
- weigh at least 50kg,
- medically healthy,
- lead a safe lifestyle, and
- love helping others.
What you can expect when you donate blood
The WPBTS provides a guide to help you understand the process:
- Check that you meet the donor criteria and double-check when you shouldn't donate blood.
- Eat a substantial meal 3 to 4 hours before heading off to the donation clinic.
- Increase your fluid intake on the day, both before and after giving blood.
- Take your ID or donor ID card.
- Register and fill out a confidential donor questionnaire.
- The nurse will test your iron levels and blood pressure.
- The nurse will then insert a needle into your arm and begin the process.
In an attempt to increase awareness of National Blood Donor Month, World Blood Donor Day, general blood donation and blood safety, WPBTS will be hosting a road show with our big red blood bus, the Blood Buzz.
“June is National Blood Donor Month, which gives WPBTS an opportunity to recognise and thank its remarkable donors for the role they play in ensuring a safe and sustainable blood supply,” said Marlize van der Merwe.
Visit any one of the permanent donation clinics to donate blood or to find out more information:
- 22 Long Street, Cape Town CBD, open Mondays to Fridays from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
- N1 City Mall, Goodwood, open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 6pm; Saturdays from 9am to 3pm and Sundays and Public Holidays from 9am to 12pm.
- Blue Route Mall, Tokai, open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 6pm; Saturdays from 9am to 3pm and Sundays and Public Holidays from 9am to 12pm
Have a look at the alternative clinics on the WPBTS website.
While donors from all blood groups and communities are important, there is a particular need for donors with blood types O to donate regularly as stocks of these are more vulnerable to shortfalls. There is also a need for more black African people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients.
For more information, SMS “Blood” to 33507 and WPBTS will call you back with information on where to donate. You can also call (021) 507 6300 or email email@example.com
Breaking down the myths
Here are 10 things you may have thought were true about donating blood and the facts:
Myth: “I’ll get HIV/Aids when I donate blood.”
Fact: You can’t get HIV/Aids when you donate blood. Healthcare workers ensure that needles are new and sterile. If however, you’re involved in risky sexual behaviour, you won't be able to donate blood immediately. Tests will also be done to determine if you can donate blood and you'll need to wait for a period of time.
Myth: “I can’t donate blood if I have a tattoo, body piercing, ear piercing or permanent make-up applied.”
Fact: You can only donate blood 6 months after you get your piercing, tattoo or permanent make-up.
Myth: “I can’t use medication before giving blood.”
Fact: If you’re using medication, there is no waiting period. If you’re donating platelets (forms part of your blood) there is a 7 day waiting period before you can donate blood.
Myth: “Pregnant women can donate blood.”
Fact: Pregnant women can’t donate blood. Nursing mothers can only donate blood 6 months after the baby’s birth.
Myth: “I can only donate blood when I’m 18.”
Fact: You can donate blood if you’re healthy, weigh at least 50kg and are between the ages of 16 – 65.
Myth: “I’ll be in a lot of pain after I’ve donated blood.”
Fact: You may experience some pain afterwards, but shouldn’t experience any pain during the process.
Myth: “Only certain races can donate blood.”
Fact: Our province has never used any racial profiling policies for blood donations. You can donate blood as long as you meet the donation criteria.
Myth: “I can’t eat before I donate blood.”
Fact: You should eat at least 3 to 4 hours before you donate blood.
Myth: “The donation process takes all day and I may need a day off from work.”
Fact: The entire process will take only 30 minutes of your time.
Myth: “The health care worker will draw a lot of blood and I’ll be sick after the process.”
Fact: You’ll donate approximately 475ml of blood and should not feel sick after donating blood. If you feel dizzy, you can lie down or sit with your head on your knees.
Watch our blood donor video