Red roses, chocolates, romantic picnics and dinners are just some of the ways that people demonstrate how much they care for their loved ones over Valentine’s Day. For those who choose not to go the conventional route to celebrate this occasion, the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) encourages people to share liquid love.
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Mothers in labour, cancer patients and accident victims are just some of the people who are often in desperate need of life-saving blood transfusions. Blood donors are anonymous heroes who are the reason for thousands of people getting a second chance to live.
“Valentine’s Day is a chance for us to show love and generosity. This act of kindness is even more special when it includes people that we may never meet,” says SANBS Chief Marketing Officer Thapelo Mokoena.
Each unit of blood that is given could benefit up to three recipients. The precious liquid, donated by unpaid volunteers, is split into various products like platelets which are pivotal in treating patients who suffer from aplastic anaemia.
In order to donate blood a donor must be between the ages of 16 and 65, weigh more than 50kg and lead a safe sexual lifestyle. Donors are also encouraged to eat something prior to their donation.
View: Blood donation questionnaire
To meet the growing need for blood and maintain good stock levels, SANBS endeavours to collect a minimum of 3 000 units daily and this requires collaborative efforts to achieve.
“We understand that having a needle inserted into your arm is not an easy thing to do. For those who are afraid of needles or can’t stand the sight of blood, there are other ways in which they can support us in reaching our goal. We challenge them not to watch from the side-lines but to get in touch with us to find out how their spare time could be spent helping us to save lives,” says Mokoena.
Who needs blood?
Eight out of every ten people will need donated blood at some time in their lives. Without blood donated by other people, many of them would have died. Still, many people don't give the blood transfusion service a second thought until they are the ones needing the blood.
The donation process
Donating blood is a safe and simple procedure that takes about 30 minutes. All needles are new, sterile, used only once and incinerated after use.
But many people are still uncertain as to exactly what happens when you donate blood.
This is how the actual donation process works:
- You will complete a donor questionnaire that includes your personal details;
- You will answer questions regarding your health and social behaviour;
- You will undergo a one-on-one interview with a staff member following the questions you answered on the donor questionnaire;
- Your iron (haemoglobin) level will be checked and your blood pressure and pulse rate will be taken;
- During the donation process you will donate one unit of blood (480ml), which your body will quickly replace; and
- You will receive refreshments to aid in replacing lost fluid.
After donating, eat well and increase your fluid intake for the next four to six hours. Do not smoke for at least 30 minutes. Also avoid strenuous physical exertion and lifting heavy objects with the arm used for making the donation for at least two hours afterwards.
Where you can donate blood
You've decided you want to donate blood, but you don't know where to go. The SANBS can be contacted at www.sanbs.org.za or by phoning the toll free number 0800 11 9031 for a list of locations in your area.
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