“It really is an awesome thing to do,” says blood recipient Jacob Mohapi. He received blood on two occasions due to horrific car accidents. Thanks to South Africa’s dedicated pool of blood Jacob – and thousands of others with life-threatening conditions – joins the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) in encouraging to South Africans to become regular blood donors on World Blood Donor Day on Thursday 14 June 2018.
Every year, World Blood Donor Day highlights the need to maintain a stable supply of healthy, safe blood and blood products, while encouraging people to become regular donors. It’s also an opportunity to thank the volunteers whose donations of blood save and enhance the lives of people like Jacob.
Silungile Mlambo, the SANBS’s chief marketing officer, says: “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: ‘Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life’.”
This theme emphasises “blood donation as an act of solidarity” with our fellow human beings, highlighting the fundamental values of empathy and kindness that underpin the selfless act of blood donation, according to the World Health Organisation.
“Out of South Africa’s population of 56-million people, only about 1% donate blood regularly. This blood is used by every person living in this country who needs a transfusion during an operation or after being involved in an accident,” Mlambo says.
While the SANBS applauds its regular donors, more volunteers are needed to ensure the target of 3 300 units per day is maintained, she adds. “In particular, this Youth Month we are appealing to young, healthy South Africans to make donating blood a lifestyle choice. It’s your chance to put the president’s Thuma Mina rallying call into action!”
South Africans can visit their nearest blood donor centre on 14 June, while corporates, schools, universities and community organisations can do their bit by arranging blood drives blood drives.
There is a common misperception that most of the blood donated in South Africa goes to accident victims. This is not the case. Here is a rough breakdown from the SANBS of where the blood it collects is used:
- 28% is used to treat cancer and aplastic anaemia
- 27% is used during childbirth
- 21% is used for scheduled surgery
- 10% is used for paediatric care
- 6% goes to laboratories
- 6% is used for orthopaedic care
- 4% is used for accident or trauma victims
World Blood Donor Day coincides with the #MissingType campaign, which runs from 11 to 18 June 2018. The SANBS is asking organisations to remove the letters A, B and O (symbolising the “missing” blood types with the same letters) from their logos for a week to raise awareness of the need for new blood donors. All South Africans can join in by temporarily deleting the As, Bs and Os from their social media handles.
As for Jacob, he wants to thank every blood donor who made it possible for him to live his life with his son Thabang. Blood donations go way beyond just the person who receives the blood. It’s not just blood, it’s keeping families together.
Join the #MissingType conversation on Twitter (@theSANBS), Facebook (@SANBS) and Instagram (@thesanbs)