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World Blood Donor Day

 SOUTH AFRICA marks World Blood Donor Day today (June 14) by celebrating and thanking eligible donors who regularly donate a pint of blood, and in so doing become members of the medical team that saves South African lives.

“Blood donors are heroes,” says Silungile Mlambo, national marketing manager for the South African National Blood Service (SANBS). “They literally keep their fellow South Africans — sick people, tiny babies, new moms, surgical patients and trauma patients — alive. If it weren’t for blood donors, many thousands of us would not be here today. In fact, 80 percent of all South Africans will receive a blood donation at least once in their lifetime.”

To keep abreast of the healthcare system’s demand for blood, the SANBS receives donations at 79 centres across South Africa. It employs more than 2 400 people.

Donors will tell you donating is a simple, painless procedure that demands no more than about 30 minutes of your time every two months. Donors are the very lifeblood of the nation’s healthcare sector; of clinical and surgical medicine and, increasingly, of research that’s helping scientists understand (and find cures for) immune diseases, many cancers and a range of blood disorders.

“It makes no difference if you’re a donor or if you aren’t,” says Mlambo, “if you get sick or injured and you need blood we’ll do our best to get it to you. This will happen whether you are a private- or public-sector patient. It will happen whether you are on medical aid or not. It will happen whether you are young or old. We say this because of the 479 000 registered South African blood donors who provide the 3 000 units of blood the country needs every single day.”

There’s absolutely no question that the blood is perfectly safe. Every pint undergoes rigorous testing to make sure of this. In fact, says Mlambo, South Africa has the best testing technology in the world, and tracks every drop of blood from donor right through storage, transport and testing until it is used in a medical or clinical facility to save a life.

“On World Blood Donor Day we thank South African donors for the priceless gift they give freely, generously and with no expectation of reward. They are literally the lifeblood of the nation. The SANBS, and the millions of people whose lives have been saved, thank them,” Mlambo says.

To find out more about donating blood and to locate your nearest SANBS donor centre, visit sanbs.org.za/where-can-i-donate or call 0800 11 90 31.

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