Appeal for blood as country runs dry

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

South Africa is facing a massive blood shortage, with KwaZulu-Natal left with just "a drop".

South African National Blood Service (SANBS) appealed to people yesterday, especially those with Group O blood type, to donate blood.

SANBS spokesman Justice Mohale said: "We are in urgent need of Group O blood donations as it is compatible with any type of blood.

"Although the whole country is running short KwaZulu-Natal is facing a critical situation. The province is in possession of one day's stock. This means we have blood for one day only. Normally we need blood stock to last for five to seven days," said Mohale.

"We are appealing to anybody aged between 16 and 65, who weighs more than 50kg and leads a sexually safe lifestyle to donate. You do not have to be group Blood O type."

The SANBS requires 3000 units daily for private and government hospitals. At present, the organisation is on its last legs.

Mohale said the shortage was caused by the recent flu epidemic and the public service strike.

"Most donors couldn't donate blood because they had flu. Therefore, they had to wait until the 56-day window period had lapsed. Mobile clinics had to operate as the strike continued for three months. This affected blood collections across the country.

"After the strike we could not continue with our programmes with schools. Schools told us that they had to concentrate on their recovery programmes," he added.

For more information on blood donations the public can contact 0800-11-90-31.