Thursday, 9 April 2015

You've got to donate blood more than once to make a difference

We're in the Easter season, a time when blood donations are desperately needed. I've heard the SANBS (National Blood Service) people on the radio and calls for donations are in the news.

Some stupid ass on the news yesterday proclaimed that the increase in already excessive number of road deaths over this Easter period was because Easter falls at month-end. No, idiot, it is because there are so many on the road who speed, drive drunk, overtake on corners, solid-white lines and blind rises, reverse on the highway... That's why. 

Right now, they especially need regular donors to donate as all components from first-time donors ARE NOT USED until the person has donated twice more.

The reason for this is safety; SANBS makes sure that your blood is good and healthy to give to someone. If you're on the receiving end, you can be assured that SANBS has one of the highest testing and donating standards in the World.

SANBS has fixed donor centres around the country and they also run mobile clinics at schools, business and companies. You can find these on their website -

I've written about blood donating many times. As a regular donor, it is something close to my heart.

Even more important to me is to tell you that ONCE-OFF DONATIONS ARE NOT USED until you go back and donate again!

The focus is safe blood and that means that you need to donate more than once so that SANBS can run their various tests on your blood and are able to confirm that your blood is safe to give to someone.

This is what happens when you first donate.

SANBS collects your donation and runs your blood through tests for things like HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis. They spin your blood to separate the components. They throw away your red blood cells and put the plasma on ice to wait for your second donation.

The next time you come in - after at least 56 days - they do the same again. When the tests from this second donation also come back negative, they will use the quarantined plasma from your first donation.

When you come in again for your third donation (after at least another 56 days), they test again (every donation is tested every time!). And after this third donation (within a one-year period), you have achieved "regular donor status" and all of your components are used.

You do need to maintain your regular donor status by donating three or more times a year.

When these calls for blood come out, heading off to a centre to make a once-off donation is a noble feel-good gesture and all that... but as you can see, if is a waste of SANBS' time and resources and money unless you return to donate again.

People often gripe about SANBS' exclusions - but they are set for good reason for your health and that of the recipients of your blood (here's a list of deferral reasons).

Like you can't donate if you've got flu or a cold. Come back when you're better.

You can't donate if you've just returned from a holiday to a malaria area. Come back four weeks after your holiday.

You can't donate for six months if you have a new sexual partner.

You can't donate while you're pregnant or breast feeding. Doh! Your baby needs you!

You can't donate if you're under 16yrs, over 65yrs or weigh less than 50kg.

You can't donate if you have a critical condition like diabetes, heart/blood pressure issues.

You can't donate if you're taking certain medications. These could seriously affect the recipient, who is probably not in such a good state if they're needing your blood.

SANBS DOES ALLOW donations from same-sex relationship donors - FINALLY!

A friend emailed me last night asking about the location of my local clinic. She's heard the calls for donations in the media and as a past recipient of a life-saving transfusion, she wants to give something back. I told her about the ineffectiveness of once-off donations and how to become a regular donor. She had no idea.

Your first donation over this critical holiday period won't help to replenish the blood stocks now. But, it is the starting point to become a regular donor and by Christmas your blood will indeed be saving lives.

The SANBS website is neat, tidy and informative.

1 comment:

adventurelisa said...

A reply from SANBS when I addressed this to them: "Your input is very worthy and you are absolutely correct. We do have our challenges as staff are infact meant to tell donors this sort of important information, but this is an ongoing training from our end."