According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) “108 million units of donated blood are collected globally every year. Nearly 50% of these blood donations come from high income countries – home to less than 20% of the world’s population”.
Sadly though – many people still die each year because they do not have access to safe blood and blood products.
You are probably wondering what exactly is “safe blood”?
It’s blood that is free from HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis – these can easily be transmitted through transfusion.
In South Africa, every unit of blood that is collected goes through stringent testing to ensure that it is safe. Scary to note that in some other countries this does not happen due to a variety of reasons – shortage of staff, irregular supply of test kits, poor quality test kits or general poor quality of the laboratories.
So how much of your precious life blood do they take? A mere 480ml – that’s all. It’s less than 10% of the total blood volume of an adult. Most adults have between 4.5 and 5 liters of blood in their bodies. (However, if a person weighs less than 50kg they are not allowed to donate because they don’t actually have enough blood to spare.) The lost fluid is replaced in the body within 36 hours.
You are, by law, not allowed to give blood more than every 56 days. This means that a person would only give three or four times a year. Not too much to ask really – is it?
In South Africa people between the age of 16 and 65 are allowed to give blood – if they are fit and healthy that is. There’s a questionnaire that you have to fill out – regarding your health and life style. They do a finger prick test to check iron levels before donating. Blood pressure is also checked to make sure that people are actually healthy enough to donate.
Remember – you need to eat and drink enough fluid (not alcohol) before you donate.
Or course, if you’ve had flu or have been sick in the last few days you are not allowed to donate because it would be bad for you.
For more information on giving blood – go to http://www.sanbs.org.za/ .
Interestingly enough… dogs can have blood transfusions too – with dog blood of course.
If you are fit and healthy please consider donating – you never know when you yourself might need a blood transfusion.