Health

Your blood saves lives

Maxine du Plessis

On March 13th, the South African National Blood Services (SANBS) had a blood drive at the Sabie

Country Club and also at the Sabie Hospital. SANBS managed to collect 19 units of blood from donors at the Sabie Hospital and 23 units of blood from donors at the Sabie Country Club.

“Only 37 per cent of our country’s population is eligible to give blood, and less than 10 per cent of those who can donate, actually do donate annually. Less than 1% of South Africans are active blood donors.” If you think about it, these statistics from givingblood.org is absolutely mind-blowing.

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. If it was not for blood donors, life-saving medical treatment for children with life-threatening anaemia, trauma victims, and women with pregnancy-related complications, organ transplants, bone marrow transplants, complicated surgical procedures and cancer treatments would not be possible.

To date, more than 20 genetically determined blood group systems exist, but the ABO and Rh blood group systems are the most important ones used for blood transfusions. Not all blood groups are compatible with each other and the success of modern transfusion medicine depends on classifying and matching donors and patients correctly.

Mixing incompatible blood groups lead to blood clumping, or agglutination, which is dangerous for individuals. All donors belong to one of four blood groups: A, B, AB or O.Â. You are also classified as either Rh positive or Rh negative. There are therefore eight different main blood groups. Group O blood is known as the universal blood type, as it can be given to patients of any blood group.

The differences in human blood are due to the presence or absence of certain protein molecules called antigens and antibodies. The antigens are located on the surface of the red blood cells and the antibodies are in the blood plasma. Individuals have different types and combinations of these molecules. The blood group you belong to depends on what you have inherited from your parents.

SANBS aims to collect 3000 units of blood per day to ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply in the health care system. Be sure to do your part for your fellow human being by donating blood if you are able to. You never know when you might be the next to need a blood transfusion. SANBS will be hosting their next blood drive in Sabie on May 8th at the Sabie Country Club.*

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