News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday June 26th 2019

World Cup, teachers strike, leads to dangerously low blood stocks

The World Cup, coupled with the prolonged teachers’ strike this year has resulted in the South African National Blood Services (SANBS) running critically low on blood stock ahead of the festive season.With a high annual toll of road accidents during December and January, it is critical for the SANBS to be well stocked in order to treat accident victims and a frantic appeal for blood donors has been broadcast.

SANBS head of marketing Debbie Forster said the organisation didn’t expect the current shortage as fridges were well stocked ahead of, and during, the World Cup.

But 20 percent of their stocks comes from visits to high schools and the teachers strike that lasted for three weeks during August saw them being turned away from schools and unable to replenish their reserves.

Not only were they unable to visit schools during the strike, the resultant pressure on schools to catch up with the syllabus following the long World Cup holiday period and subsequent strike saw principals turning the SANBS away, saying they did not want their learners disturbed, she said.

“It was just too busy a period for them after the World Cup,” said Forster.

Forster said they had 2.5 days of reserve stock at the moment. The minimum desired reserve is five days.

The difference amounted to 6 000 units of blood.

“Our main concern is the shortage of blood type O since this group is used to stock all the fridges around the country,” she said.

She said SANBS was also worried about availability for clinics and hospitals outside major metropolitan areas that relied on SANBS stock for births and accidents.

However, she said donors were trickling in after appeals have been made on radio stations nationwide.

A shortage of blood could be fatal for some patients, especially at rural hospitals, said Mpumalanga-based junior doctor Charlotte Mlangheni.

She said hospitals were requesting more stock everyday as their stocks were too low.

Western Province Blood Transfusion Service spokesperson Leandi le Roux said their stock was fine until three weeks ago when it dropped to its current level of 50 percent capacity, or 3.5 days.

A stock of seven days was ideal she said, while a two day stock was considered a critical situation.

She said 700 units of donated blood were required per day in the province and each donor could provide 475 millilitres.

“We always struggle come December as stock runs low because we can’t host regular blood drives due to the holidays,” said le Roux.

She appealed to all eligible South Africans to “give someone the best Christmas gift” possible. – Yugendree Naidoo, West Cape News

Tags: blood donors, blood stock, blood transfusion, blood transfusion service, blood type o, national blood services, road accidents, sanbs, western province

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