World Blood Donor Day
Posted on 13 June 2014
The average adult body contains about five litres of blood and one donation of blood is 480ml, which means you’re donating less than 10% of your blood. This June, the South African National Blood Services (SANBS) is dedicating the entire month to increasing awareness.
Why does World Blood Donor Day fall on 14 June?
The 14 of June was the birthday of Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943), who discovered the ABO blood group and won the Nobel prize in 1930. Established in 2004, World Blood Donor Day is one of the eight official international public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization. Countries all over the world celebrate the day to raise awareness of the need for safe, good-quality blood and blood products, while honouring the many volunteer donors.
So why should I donate blood?
Blood carries essential nourishment to all the tissue and organs in your body – you have about 25 billion red-blood cells that are constantly regenerating. By donating blood, you could help save up to three people’s lives. Blood transfusions are given to patients undergoing surgical operations, patients with cancer or leukaemia, children with severe anaemia, accident victims and women who may have haemorrhaged as a complication of pregnancy.
What do you test for?
Every pint of blood is tested (whether you’re a first-time donor or a regular one) and is only considered safe once cleared for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. These infections are all transmitted by blood so make sure you’re honest on the self-exclusion questionnaire you are required to fill out with every donation.
Once your blood has been tested (and is safe to use), it’s separated into red-blood cells, platelets and plasma. The red-blood cells carry oxygen through your body, white-blood cells make antibodies and fight against any infections, and platelets control bleeding by attaching to any injured surfaces of your blood vessels. Finally, plasma is the fluid that carries all of these cells, plus proteins, clotting factors and chemicals throughout your body.
When can I donate blood?
If you’re between the ages of 16 and 65, weigh more than 50kg and lead a sexually safe lifestyle, you can apply to donate your blood. You can only donate every 56 days because that’s how long your body needs to regenerate red-blood cells. According to SANBS, the average healthy person can donate blood 330 times during their life.
Where can I donate blood?
Simply visit the SANBS website to find a fixed site near you or call 0800 11 90 31. Visit www.sanbs.org.za for more information on blood donations.