The collection of blood from blood donors, and provision of blood products to patients in hospitals has been the responsibility of the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service for the past 80 years. First called the Cape Peninsula Blood Transfusion Service, the organisation grew to service the whole Western Province, changing its name to reflect that in 1949. Now, they are changing their name to Western Cape Blood Service, WCBS, for short.

“The new name is more accurate, as we do not carry out the transfusion of blood – we are responsible for the collection, testing, and distribution of blood to state and private hospitals – while transfusion is the responsibility of clinical staff in the hospitals. Also, the geographic area we serve has been known as the Western Cape since 1994,” says WCBS CEO and Medical Director, Dr Greg Bellairs.

The service collects around 160 000 units of blood per year, which is given to trauma and accident victims, surgery patients, burn victims and people with blood diseases such as leukaemia. With the population of the province growing steadily, WCBS is driven to meet the increasing demand for blood.

“The number of units of blood collected each month must keep up with demand. We are also seeing the establishment of new hospitals which increases the capacity to deliver health care, which includes planned surgeries, as well as treatment of trauma victims,” says Bellairs.

While many of the Western Cape’s citizens may need blood transfusions at some stage of their life, less than 1.5% of the population donates; “Group O type blood is the most in-demand, as it is used in emergencies. However, as blood groups should be matched as closely as possible to the recipient, all blood types are needed all the time,” says Bellairs.

The donation process is quick, safe and takes only 30 minutes. There are many opportunities to donate blood every day as the Service convenes several blood donation clinics throughout the province. For health and safety reasons, donors are required to be between the ages of 16 and 65, weigh over 50kg, be in good general health and lead a safe lifestyle.

“Western Cape Blood Service remains committed to providing the safest blood products and most efficient service to the community, while operating at the highest professional and ethical standards,” says Bellairs.

For more information, SMS “Blood” to 33507, call WCBS on 021 507 6300, e-mail or visit Blood stock updates and interesting facts about donation can be found on Facebook (@TheWCBS), Twitter (@The_WCBS) and Instagram (@thewcbs) accounts.