Thursday 31 December 2015

Blood donation #41 at my new donor centre

I've been a bit off kilter with my blood donations but yesterday got in my 3rd for the year at the donor centre in Potchefstroom. My last was in early August (my 40th donation), I did stem cell registration in September and I usually do October so that I'm good for the week between xmas and new year. This year I missed October.

There is a mobile clinic that comes to Parys every few months - I'll get the schedule in January.

The Potch clinic is located near the university, which means it is busy and well attended in term time. The SANBS nurses there (I met two of them) were friendly and welcoming. The cookies that they have are different to the ones in Jo'burg. They're individually packaged (you get two in a pack in Jo'burg) and the cookie is smaller. On the plus side, the ginger one is tasty.

At this time of year, blood stocks are low because of all the car accidents over the holiday season so the blood bank is always in desperate need of donors. When you consider that a trauma patient may need 30 to 60 units to save their life... yeah, they need a lot of people to donate regularly.

Looking at the SANBS 2015 Annual Report (for the first time), around the country SANBS operates 84 blood banks in hospitals in eight Provinces (not Western Cape - they have their own Transfusion Service), they have 82 permanent donor centres and every day there are mobile clinics (around 3000 a year!) that visit schools, businesses and communities.

SANBS has been focusing on increasing their base of black donors, which is now at 38% of all donors.

They have an 87% return rate! One of the highest in the World. And they got 13% new donors. I hope that they only count donors as new once they've got their regular donor status with at least three donations in their first year. As you know, once-off donations do not count.

Here's a short video from The Citizen newspaper featuring the SANBS communications manager.

Interestingly, once they've separated whole blood donations into the three components - platelets, red blood cells and plasma they can only keep the platelets for five days, red blood cells for 42 days and plasma they can freeze for up to three years.

Remember, once-off donations DO NOT COUNT. They test your first donation and hang on to it until your next donation. They use the plasma from the first if your second test is clear and they wait for your third donation to come in (within a year from the first). Once all three donation are clear of infectious agents (HIV, Hepatitis, Syphilis) only then will they use your whole donation. That's why it is important to become a regular donor, making three (minimum) to six (maximum) donations every year.

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