The safety of blood recipients, donors and staff remains a top priority for the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS). The recent Ebola outbreaks may have a direct impact on blood safety and it is for this reason that individuals who have travelled to countries where Ebola is prevalent will be deferred from donating blood. As these areas are also considered at risk for Malaria, donors returning from these areas would be routinely deferred even in the absence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

The Ebola virus has never been transmitted by blood transfusion, but we are very cautious while the epidemic unfolds in some parts of Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal). Any person who may have travelled to an affected area or who may have been exposed to a patient infected with the Ebola virus must not donate blood for a period of 4 weeks from the day of their return or from their last contact with the infected person. This request for donors to self-defer from giving blood is highly recommended by WPBTS.

There is currently no test available to screen routine blood donations for Ebola in South Africa. Ebola testing is only performed by highly specialised laboratories such as those operated by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to continue donating or joining the blood donation community. WPBTS aims to collect 700 units of blood a day in the Western Cape to meet the demand by patients who are in need of blood transfusions. This need can only be met with the generosity of volunteer donors.

Once you, or someone close to you, have donated blood and feel that you are not well or deem your unit of blood donated to not be safe for transfusion, please contact WPBTS on 021 507 6300 immediately.

Issued by: Caroline Hilton, Transfusion Medical Doctor

Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS)

021 507 6329 | 083 282 1612 |

For media enquiries, contact:

Irene van Schalkwyk, WPBTS Manager: Public Relations

021 507 6364 | 083 703 8223 |