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‘We want your blood’

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With a blood supply of only 3.9 days, the South African National Blood Service in Kimberley is in desperate need of more blood.

Jessica Chaila donating blood at the Kimberley Donor Centre. Picture: Soraya Crowie

“WE WANT your blood”.

This was the message to city residents from the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) in Kimberley, who indicated that with a blood supply of 3.9 days, they are in desperate need of more blood.

The donor relations practitioner for SANBS at the Kimberley Donor Centre, Monde Sibisi, said they are lagging behind their required five-day blood stock.

“We are currently on 3.9 days and we need to be on five days to operate adequately. For the month of November, the Northern Cape has a target of 2,332 units that must be collected. We have only collected 490 units and that is only 17%. That is worrying,” Sibisi said.

He added that a number of blood drives have been planned in an attempt to encourage residents to donate.

“We will have a blood drive at Sunset Kids on Friday, November 17. This is the first time we have collaborated with a school. Our aim is to get parents to donate blood as it is a primary school and primary school learners cannot donate. Our aim is to collect at least 35 units of blood at Sunset Kids. Should we get more, it will be a big bonus. The worst case scenario would be if we collect only 15 units.

“Next week we will be having a blood drive at Staats Primary School. Staats Primary is celebrating their 60th birthday and they have set a target of collecting 60 units of blood as part of the celebration.

“We also have extra blood drives at government departments, like the police station in Phakamile Mabija Road, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the Department of Education offices.”

Sibisi said that with the festive season approaching, they wanted to encourage people to donate blood before going on holiday.

“We want as much blood as we can get. We normally rely on communities like Warrenton, Prieska and De Aar, to name a few, for blood supply. During December most people however go on holiday and we only have blood drives at the malls. December is probably the worst time for collections … Most people want to relax and do not prioritise blood donation during this time.

“We are now at a critical level with our supply and need people to donate.”

Sibisi noted that various factors play a role when it comes to blood donation, where even service delivery disruptions can hamper donations.

“One of the greatest factors is education around blood donation. We do a lot of education initiatives at schools, communities and businesses. Protest actions also impact donor’s access to our donor centre or when we need to collect units. At times we found that roads are closed off and people are not able to come to donate.

“At times it is the weather, like when it rains. People do not want to walk in the rain. The biggest weather challenge is the heat. Some people fear they will faint so they stay away.”

Sibisi added that the registration process to becoming a donor is as painless as denoting blood.

“We have a new system that we are using that is paperless. In the past, donors had to fill out a long document, but that process has been eliminated. Nowadays, everything is digital. Donors can come into the donor centre and type their details onto the iPad available at the centre.

“We are looking at launching an app next year where people can make appointments for donations online. So the process is easy and faster, the same as donating blood.

“Regular donors know that donation does not take all day. Our centre is also equipped with air-conditioners and donors are made comfortable while they donate. Donors receive a gift as an appreciation,” Sibisi said.

A donor from Kimberley, Jessica Chaila, said seeing a family in critical need of blood made her realise the importance of blood donation.

“I have a cousin from Kuruman who was hospitalised and in desperate need of blood. Her parents were terrified as the hospital was struggling to get her blood type. I saw how important it was to donate blood and how it can save someone’s life,” Chaila said.

She added that she later discovered that she had “special blood”.

“When I started to donate blood I was told my blood group is O-negative. I found out that the O-negative blood group is normally used for babies. I am more than happy to make a difference in the lives of such little people. I encourage everyone to donate as every drop of blood can save someone’s life,” she said.

The donor relations practitioner at the Kimberly Donor Centre, Monde Sibisi. Picture: Soraya Crowie

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