June 14 marks World Blood Donor Day and the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) has called on South Africans to donate blood and give the gift of life.
"The best gift you can give anyone is the gift of life. We know that South Africans have huge hearts and we call on them to fully embrace the spirit of this year's World Blood Donor Day theme - Safe blood for all," said the SANBS Chief Marketing Officer, Silungile Mlambo.
World Blood Donor Day is an annual event to encourage the implementation, support of nationally-coordinated and sustainable blood programmes.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the focus of this year's campaign is blood donation and universal access to safe blood transfusion.
The theme encourages people all over the world to become blood donors and donate blood regularly – actions which are key to building a strong foundation of sustainable national blood supplies.
The theme also calls on all governments, national health authorities and national blood services to provide adequate resources, systems and infrastructure to increase collection of blood from voluntary, regular unpaid blood donors.
This year, Rwanda will play host to the international World Blood Donor Day commemoration in Kigali.
Closer to home, the call for blood donation is much more urgent. According to the SANBS, less than 1% of South Africans are active blood donors.
A unit of blood only lasts 42 days after donation and, for this reason, it is important for blood donors to donate regularly. Donors can give blood as often as every eight weeks.
Every unit of blood can save a minimum of three lives, as blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets.
To ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply in the health care system, the SANBS aims to collect 3 000 units of blood per day. This is the journey of 1 unit of donated blood.
There are many SANBS blood donation centres open to the public. To find the nearest blood donation centre, visit https://sanbs.org.za/donor-centres/
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)