Donate blood - to help save a life

2017-11-16 06:00
=There currently is a critical shortage of blood. The South African National Blood Service recently held a media breakfast highlighting why the public should be encouraged to donate blood. Seen above are (from left) Andiswa Dambuza (SANBS), Maryke Harris (SANBS), Megan Norval (guest speaker), Elize Scheepers (SANBS) and Babalwa Mtana (SANBS).       Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

=There currently is a critical shortage of blood. The South African National Blood Service recently held a media breakfast highlighting why the public should be encouraged to donate blood. Seen above are (from left) Andiswa Dambuza (SANBS), Maryke Harris (SANBS), Megan Norval (guest speaker), Elize Scheepers (SANBS) and Babalwa Mtana (SANBS). Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

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“Someone, somewhere saved my son’s live by donating blood. Thank you!”

So said Megan Norval who at the South African National Blood Service media event in Port Elizabeth, told the story of how a blood transfusion saved the life of her 4 month old baby son, Marcus.

He was born with a very rare form of childhood interstitial lung disease called Neuroendocrine Cell Hyperplasia of Infancy (NEHI). In fact he is the only person in South Africa that medicos know of who has this childhood disease.

“The day he was born he was not breathing properly. The nurses said everything was fine, but I knew it was not. Eventually they did an electrocardiogram (ECG) test and realized Marcus was not breathing properly and took him to the neonatal intensive care unit,” said Norval.

At first it was said that Marcus was born with pneumonia and was treated accordingly. At the age of 9 weeks he was back in the paediatric ward and his heart rate was sky high. This time it was said he had influenza. The next day Marcus’ lungs fell flat and he was put on a ventilator.

“Marcus urgently needed a blood transfusion and there was no O+ blood in stock. He was given two units of O-. Two days later he was off the ventilator, smiling and 18 days later discharged. Just to be back a week later for another 16 days.”

Eventually Marcus was taken to a paediatric pulmonologist (lung specialist) Dr Fiona Kritzinger in Cape Town. She did a lung biopsy and he was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cell Hyperplasia of Infancy (NEHI).

“Because of the blood Marcus has received and because of God’s grace this ‘smiling happy chappie’ is still with us. We celebrated his first birthday on the 5th of September.

“It would not have been possible if it was not for a selfless donor who donated blood. Blood saved Marcus’ life.

“This was a motivation to me to now also donate blood. Now I know, someone, somewhere needs blood to stay alive,” said Norval.

Critical blood shortage

SANBS currently is experiencing a critical shortage of blood owing to the lack of blood drives it can hold at schools and universities. There especially is a critical shortage of blood across the country with the group O blood stock.

“We appeal to all South Africans – active donors, lapsed donors and potential donors – to go to their local donor centre and donate blood to bolster the national blood stock,” says Silungile Mlambo, national marketing manager for the SANBS.

Mlambo says blood is critical for cancer patients and women in childbirth – who constitute by far the greatest groups of people requiring blood transfusions.

“So many people in life-threatening situations require blood. It’s what saves a haemorrhaging mother’s life, so that she can raise and love the baby she has just brought into the world.

“It’s what helps cancer patients endure and survive treatment.

“It’s not just blood; it’s saving people’s lives, through a simple, easy donation,” says Mlambo.

“More than that, however, we appeal to South Africans to become regular donors. By donating blood only four times a year, we can easily avoid situations such as the one in which we find ourselves,” says Mlambo.

  • To find out more about donating blood and to locate your nearest SANBS donor centre, visit sanbs.org.za or call 0800 11 90 31.

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