Donating blood: You can save a life
Western Cape hospitals and clinics require approximately 700 units of blood each day. One person can donate 475ml (1 unit) of blood every 2 months, or 56 days. Your 1 donation can save the lives of up to 3 people.
Blood can’t be artificially manufactured and blood donation services such as the Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) relies on voluntary blood donors and encourages all eligible donors to donate.
There's an urgent need for more blood donors as only a mere 1.5% of the Western Cape’s population donates blood.
Donated blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Whole blood is only used in cases of severe blood loss during surgery, trauma or for exchange transfusion in infants.
- Red blood cells: Can be used for patients who experience blood loss as a result of accidents, trauma, surgery or blood loss during childbirth.
- Plasma: Is used as a source for clotting factors, replacement of blood volume and albumin, a protein used to treat severe shock and burns.
- Platelets: Help blood clot and are used to treat patients with bone marrow production problems and in the treatment of leukaemia.
6 Reasons why you should donate blood
According to WCBS, there are many good reasons to donate blood which include:
1. Blood saves lives
Every unit of blood donated can be separated into 3 components and used to help improve and save the lives of up to 3 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
While 75% of our population are potential recipients, less than 1.5% are donors.
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 30 minutes, after which you can resume your daily activities. Finally, you won’t even miss the one unit (475 ml) of blood donated, because it’s quickly reproduced and replaced by your body.
What should I expect?
The Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) provides a guide to help you understand the process:
- Check that you meet the donor criteria.
- 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, every time you donate blood.
- The nurse will test your haemoglobin levels and blood pressure.
- The nurse will then insert a needle into your arm and begin the process.
- You will enjoy juice and cookies after donating blood.
Become a blood donor today
While donors from all blood groups and communities are important, there's a need for donors with blood types O to donate regularly as stocks of these are more vulnerable to shortfalls. There's also a need for more black African people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients.
You can donate blood if you:
- are between 16 and 75 years old,
- weigh at least 50kg,
- are in good health,
- lead a safe sexual lifestyle, and
- love helping others.
Become a blood donor today
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. Needles are new and sterile.
Myth: “I can’t donate blood if I have a tattoo, body/earpiercing or permanent make-up applied.”
Fact: You can donate blood 6 months after you get your piercing, tattoo or permanent make-up.
Myth: “I can’t use medication before giving blood.”
Fact: It depends on which medication you are using. Always check with the nurse on duty.
Myth: “Pregnant women can donate blood.”
Fact: Pregnant women can’t donate blood. Nursing mothers can only donate blood six months after the baby’s birth, and only once they have stopped breastfeeding exclusively.
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 – 75.
Myth: “I’ll be in a lot of pain after I’ve donated blood.”
Fact: You should not experience any pain or discomfort. If you do feel pain, please advise the staff on duty.
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 healthcare worker will draw a lot of blood and I'll be sick after the process.”
Fact: You'll donate approximately 475ml of blood and shouldn't feel sick after donating blood. If you feel dizzy, you can lie down or sit with your head on your knees.
Where can I donate blood?
Visit any one of the fixed donation clinics to donate blood or to find out more information:
- 9 Long Street, Cape Town CBD, open Mondays to Fridays from 8:00am to 3:45pm. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
- N1 City Mall, Goodwood, open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 5:45pm; Saturdays from 9am to 2:45pm, Sundays from 9am to 12:45pm and Public Holidays from 9am to 12:45am.
- Blue Route Mall, Tokai, open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 5:45pm; Saturdays from 9am to 2:45pm; Sundays closed, and Public Holidays from 9am to 12:45am
Find a clinic in your area on the WCBS website if you're unable to visit the fixed donation sites.
For more information, SMS ”Blood” 33507 and the WCBS will call you back with information on where to donate. You can also call (021) 507 6300, send us a WhatsApp on 060 549 7244 or send an email to email@example.com.
Don’t forget to “like” WCBS on Facebook (Western Cape Blood Service) or follow them on Twitter (@The_WCBS) for interesting facts and bloodstock updates.