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Updated 11 April 2017

Blood banks face shortage of crucial blood type ahead of Easter

With the Easter weekend approaching, the South African National Blood Service is under pressure, facing a shortage of a crucial blood type.

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The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is facing serious shortage of type O blood with just over a day and a half supply in its blood banks across the country.

The blood donor organisation has appealed to citizens to make donations as a matter of urgency and become regular blood donors.

The organisation says the crisis will put more pressure on the national blood supply with the long Easter weekend approaching. Many South Africans are expected to embark on long distance driving which leads to an increase of road accidents.

Ensuring a stable supply

SANBS national marketing manager, Silungile Mlambo says while they expect demand to increase during the long weekend the incidents of trauma make up only a fraction of the demand for blood.

“We need sufficient blood stock to cope with periods such as the Easter weekend, by far the greatest proportion of blood is required in other situations, such as in childbirth and for cancer patients,” says Mlambo.

While there are eight blood types, all of which are important for donation, the group O type can be given to patients of other blood groups. Blood type O comes in handy during medical emergencies, when urgent blood transfusions are required and there is little time to determine a patient’s blood type.

Mlambo has appealed to South Africans to donate blood more regularly to ensure that there is a stable supply to meet the ongoing need.

Saving lives

“By donating blood only four times a year, we can easily avoid situations such as the one in which we find ourselves,” says Mlambo.

He added that many people in life-threatening situations require blood.

“It’s what saves that haemorrhaging mother’s life, so that she can raise and love the baby she has just brought into the world. It’s what saves someone suffering complications during major surgery. It’s what helps that cancer patient endure and survive, treatment.”

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