Blood is life
From the day that human life is conceived, blood fulfils a life giving and nurturing role. Blood is life. It is the fluid of growth, transporting nourishment from digestion and hormones from glands throughout the body. Indeed, blood is the fluid of health, transporting disease fighting substances to the tissue and body waste to the kidneys.
Because it contains living cells, blood is alive. Unlike medications that are manufactured, blood cannot be manufactured. Healthy donors are the only source of blood for those who need it.
Truthfully, 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.
There is a common misconception that most of the blood donated in South Africa goes to accident victims. However, this is not the case. So, here is a rough breakdown from the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) of where the blood it collects is used:
🩸28% is used to treat cancer and aplastic anaemia.
🩸27% is used during childbirth.
🩸21% is used for scheduled surgery.
🩸10% is used for paediatric care.
🩸6% goes to laboratories.
🩸6% is used for orthopaedic care.
🩸4% is used for accident or trauma victims.
The SANBS needs to maintain a blood stock level of 5 days for each blood group to ensure sustained blood availability for patients in need. So, they aim to collect 3000 units of blood per day to ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply in the health care system.
What is the significance of my blood group?
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.
However, 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.
Rh Factor blood grouping system
Many people also have a so-called Rh factor on the red blood cell surface. This is also an antigen and those who have it are called Rh+. Those who haven’t are called Rh-. A person with Rh- blood does not have Rh antibodies naturally in the blood plasma (as one can have A or B antibodies, for instance). But a person with Rh- blood can develop Rh antibodies in the blood plasma if he or she receives blood from a person with Rh+ blood, whose Rh antigens can trigger the production of Rh antibodies. A person with Rh+ blood can receive blood from a person with Rh- blood without any problems.
Minimum Requirements to be a Blood Donor
You can donate blood if you:
🩸Are between the ages of 16 and 75 years old, for first time donors.
🩸Weigh a minimum of 50 kgs (and platelets a minimum of 55 kgs)
🩸Are in good health.
🩸Lead a low-risk lifestyle.
🩸Consider your blood safe for transfusion.
🩸Had a balanced meal within four hours of donating blood
🩸Have not donated blood in the last 56 days (and platelets in the last 14 days)
🩸Display a pulse of between 50-100 regular beats per minute
🩸Have a blood pressure reading below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) (180/100mmHg) and above 100 systolic (first number) and above 60 diastolic (second number) (100/60mmHg)
🩸Show a haemoglobin level that is 12.5 g/dL or above
A blood donation gives patients a second chance with their loved ones. Another Christmas to remember, another summer holiday at the beach, another birthday celebration.
World Blood Donor Day is observed annually on 14 May. Visit the SANBS website to find the donor centre nearest to you.
Disclaimer: All content on the The Local Choice Pharmacy is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health advice.