“Donating blood encourages you to live a responsible lifestyle,” says Ron Johnson, a blood donor who regularly makes a trip down to the Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) at Blue Route Mall to do his part to save lives.
Johnson, who has been a regular donor for about two years, says it makes him feel good and costs him nothing to save up to three lives each time he donates.
While regular donors are integral to the WCBS’s blood collection efforts, the organisation still needs to increase its active donor-base each year by 3% – more than 2 200 people annually – in order to keep a sufficient blood supply.
Currently, Marike Gevers, public relations manager at WCBS, says there is a critical shortage in A+, B+ and O- blood supplies, which means they only have a three-day blood supply.
For this reason, the blood service has launched a Call to Arms campaign, aimed at recruiting new donors. “We encourage all blood donors to unite, take arms (figuratively speaking) and challenge their family and friends to join them by donating blood and saving up to three lives with one donation,” says Gevers in a statement.
Blood donor Gaby Jakes says the process is simple with minimal pain. “I know lots of people don’t like needles but it’s really not as painful as some people think. The staff are always professional and they know what they’re doing. Sometimes you don’t even feel the needle, and when it’s in you just need to sit there,” she says.
Jakes also offers advice for donating. “I find that if I’ve been active in the day – and you must eat a good meal about an hour before you donate – that my blood flow is really good and I can complete a donation in about five or six minutes.”
Requirements to donate include:
- Being between the ages of 16 and 75;
- weighing 50kg or more;
- being in good health on the day of donation; and
- leading a safe sexual lifestyle.
Donors are also required to complete a lifestyle form before donating and take a blood pressure and iron test.
As part of the campaign, the WCBS is encouraging donors to take a selfie while donating blood and share it on social media and tag @TheWCBS, then challenge friends and family to do the same by tagging them too.
“As a small token of appreciation, each existing blood donor who brings a successful new blood donor to a blood donation clinic during November, will receive a limited-edition Blood Buddy keyring,” read a WCBS statement.