The Western Cape Blood Service at a glance – what does it take to have a sufficient bloodstock supply?

By Marike Gevers

We are an independent, non-profit, provincial healthcare organisation that collects blood from voluntary blood donors. Our mission is to provide the safest blood products and an efficient service to all people in the Western Cape. We collect, test, process, store, distribute and issue blood and blood products within the greater Western Cape region (an area approximately bordered by Plettenberg Bay, Springbok, and Beaufort West) to approximately 7.2 million people.

Our Head Office is situated in Pinelands, Cape Town, and we have regional branches in Paarl, Worcester and George, 5 permanent blood donor clinics, 350 mobile donor clinics, a specialised donation unit, an apheresis collections department, 102 emergency blood banks at 138 hospitals, 7 blood banks and 531 staff members in total.

To reach our collection target we send out 16 collection teams on a daily basis and try and make blood donation as accessible to everyone. We need to collect approximately 700 units of whole blood every day to meet the demand for blood products in the Western Cape. Last year, 129 584 units of whole blood were donated and 398 502 lives were potentially saved. Currently, we have 66 000 active blood donors. An active blood donor is a donor that donates blood at least once a year. Since the pandemic, the active donor base has dropped and the blood donor population is now only 0.91%, and ideally, we would want between 1 – 2% of the Western Cape’s population to donate blood.

When we experience a blood shortage you will hear us say, “We aim to have a 5-day blood stock supply”. This means that we receive enough blood for 5 days in each of the 8 blood groups. The reason for this is to ensure that there is a sufficient blood supply for all patients and that we are covered when an increase in the demand for blood arise.  If we have a blood shortage in one of the blood groups or there are more trauma cases, it adds additional pressure to the O blood groups, potentially leading to a blood shortage in the O blood groups. So, if you belong to the O blood group and you always wonder why your donor SMS always says “Blood stocks are critically low, we need you to donate blood”, you know this is true.

We need donors from all blood groups to donate blood to help ensure that we have a sufficient blood supply. Please assist us in our cause, spread the word, inspire friends and family to donate blood, bring a friend along to a blood donation clinic.

To find your closest blood donation clinic visit our Where Can I Donate page or send us a WhatsApp to 060 549 7244.

Do something remarkable. Donate blood.


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