We need new blood

If you are wondering how you can become the agent of change that Cyril Ramaphosa urged South Africans to be in his inaugural address as President, look no further – become a blood donor on Human Rights Day.

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is implementing a mass blood drive next Wednesday, 21 March, to recruit new donors and ensure there is sufficient stock of safe blood available in South Africa.

The #NewBlood campaign is targeting the collection of 4 500 units of blood on the public holiday.

The SANBS is especially calling on first-time donors and lapsed donors who know that their blood type is Group O, to donate.

“Currently less than 1% of South Africans donate blood even though it demands little more than giving up 30 minutes of their time at least twice a year,” says Silungile Mlambo, Chief Marketing Officer for the SANBS. “That means that we often experience shortages which place lives at risk; lives of babies born prematurely, lives of accident victims, lives of women giving birth and the lives of people fighting cancer.”

“We are therefore calling on anyone who has never donated or has not donated in over a year to heed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plea and to become an agent of change and lend a hand by becoming a blood donor, starting on Human Rights Day.”

Mlambo says the SANBS will host blood drives around the country to collect the blood, including in Vilakazi Street, once home to Nobel Peace Prize laureates, President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“The beauty of blood donation is that virtually anyone can do it. You don’t need to have money or live in a fancy house or have a graduate degree or a fancy car. If you’re over 16 years old, weigh over 50kg and practice a healthy lifestyle, you can be a blood donor. And by giving blood you can save up to three people’s lives. So something that costs you nothing, is absolutely priceless for someone in need of blood. Nobody can make a greater impact than saving someone else’s life,” says Mlambo.

She says that the SANBS is launching the #NewBlood campaign on Human Rights Day because it signals the start of the Easter holiday period.

“Holidays are unfortunately the time when we traditionally run short of blood because we are not able to host our regular drives at schools and university campuses. But this year, the SANBS wants to start turning things around. We want to lend a hand, as President Ramaphosa asked us to do, and ensure that there is enough safe blood available in the country. The #NewBlood campaign is asking you to lend us a hand by becoming a regular blood donor,” says Mlambo.

She appealed to regular donors to spread the message and get new and lapsed donors – and especially those with blood type O, the most common type in South Africa – to donate.

“We are ever grateful to our regular hero donors without whom we would not exist. We thank them for their continued donations but ask that they help us further by becoming ambassadors for blood donation. Tell first-time and lapsed donors how it feels to be a hero just by donating blood. We would appreciate it if they could help us save even more lives,” says Mlambo.

First-time donors must produce identification when presenting for a donation.