Updated 10 June 2014

'Sow' your blood so that others may 'harvest'

As a regular blood recipient, Alta Smith from East-London is grateful to all the people who donate blood. She feels that blood donors often do not realise what a big difference they make.


Life has thrown Alta Smith a good few curve balls when it comes to her health, but the former Johannesburger, who is currently living in East London with her two daughters, has managed to hit back hard to claim a home run!

In her late forties, Alta looks amazing and nowhere close to her age, even with all the health problems she has experienced since the age of 29. It was at this young age that 90% of her stomach had to be removed due to the discovery of cancer.

During this operation, an artery was cut, which led to her receiving 6 units of blood! Her doctor described how the surgeons were slipping on her blood. 

Not enough blood

Another problem that cropped up was that the hospital did not have enough blood on standby to transfuse to her and blood had to be brought in from elsewhere.  It took Alta 3 weeks to recover in the hospital.

As this was the early 90s, HIV/Aids was a relatively new term and HIV/Aids transfused blood was reported by the media more often. This made Alta rather nervous and she asked to have an HIV/Aids test done after her transfusion – it was negative.

Read: Programme fights HIV blood

The cancer treatment that Alta underwent caused her to become anaemic and she had to go for regular iron and Vitamin B injections – especially as her minimised stomach was not absorbing enough nutrients from the food she was eating.

Since this major operation, Alta has been receiving a blood transfusion at least once every 2 years (approximately 3 to 4 units at a time).

In 2003, it was found that she was bleeding internally and she received another 5 units of blood.  They furthermore discovered cancer in her intestines, which was the cause of the blood loss.

It was at this time that Alta decided against any further cancer treatments – this is when her faith in God started to grow, as she had to depend on Him for a miracle.

Cancer free

In 2005, after her work transfer to East London, Alta started feeling ill, but could not put her finger on what was wrong.  As she was on her way to church one Sunday, not knowing the town so well, she saw a directional sign board for the Frere Hospital.

As she was not feeling well, she decided to rather go to the hospital straight away, instead of going to church.  Here they tested her iron levels – which were extremely low.  It was found that she had internal bleeding once again, this time due to an abscess on the outside of her stomach.  Now that’s what one calls ‘divine intervention’!

Since Alta has been receiving blood, her trust in the SA National Blood Service and its technological advancement has grown to such an extent that she does not ask for her blood to be tested after receiving a unit or more of blood.  She believes that God brings certain things across your path and that you should trust in Him.  She is also cancer free!

Read: How to prepare yourself for donating blood

As a regular blood recipient, she is grateful for all the people who donate blood.  She feels that blood donors often do not realise what a big impact their unit of blood has on the recipients.

Putting it in a biblical sense she also feels that when people donate blood they "sow" the blood so that someone else can "harvest" the benefits of it.

In her eyes, all blood donors are heroes!

Read more:

What is blood donation?

Stem cell donation safe and rewarding

 Patient's 'lost' blood can be reused in trauma surgery


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