Blood Products and Services Information

This service allows prospective patients who are to undergo elective surgery or have chronic red cell transfusion requirements to recruit family and friends who have compatible blood groups to donate blood for them. This request must be made by the patient’s clinician through formal referral (see a link to the referral documents below) and the decision to donate must be entirely voluntary.

Designated single donor platelet donations can also be requested when HLA-matched platelet products are required. This request typically arises when there is suspicion of platelet antibodies in patients whose platelet counts fails to increment following transfusion, and other causes have been excluded (eg. fever, infection or splenomegaly). The patient’s clinician must request HLA-typing of their patient via their own tissue immunology laboratory and these results are sent to the South African Bone Marrow Registry for matching with a donor. The donor’s contact details are then forwarded to the WCBS Apheresis Unit who will try to locate them to establish if they are eligible and willing to donate. The procedure involves the donor being placed on an apheresis machine for about 90 minutes.

Designated donors must comply with the general blood donor acceptance criteria and undergo mandatory donation testing, although TPHA reactive or cross-reactive donations may be issued with permission from the WCBS CEO/Medical Director in consultation with the patient’s clinician.

All designated blood donations from first and second degree relatives must be irradiated in order to prevent transfusion associated graft versus host disease, which relates to the potential sharing of HLA-haplotypes by the donor and patient.

It is not advisable for women of childbearing age to receive blood from their spouse or his relatives as this could lead to a blood group incompatibility that can affect the safety of future pregnancies.

Download clinician’s request for specialised donations

Download patient’s consent for specialised donations

For red cell and plasma designated donation enquiries please contact Sr Tania Paarman, Manager – Specialised Donations.

Sr Tania Paarman: Telephone +27 (0)21 507 6393 | Email Tania@wcbs.org.za

For HLA-matched platelet designated donation enquiries please contact Kay Abrahams, Manager – Apheresis Donations.

Kay Abrahams: Telephone +27 (0)21 507 6395 | Email Kay@wcbs.org.za

Therapeutic phlebotomy refers to the practice of donating blood to assist with the management of medical conditions that result in iron overload or high red cell production. Common causes for these conditions include hereditary haemochromatosis, secondary polycythaemia from smoking or testosterone use, and polycythaemia vera.

Patients who are advised to donate blood for medical reasons must be referred by their clinician through formal referral (see link to the referral documents below). The referral information will be reviewed by the WCBS Head – Medical Division, in order for the blood services to determine whether it is safe for the phlebotomy to take place at a non-medical facility and if the blood is suitable for transfusion to a patient. Frail patients or patients with significant cardiovascular comorbidity are advised to undergo therapeutic phlebotomies in hospital settings where there is medical support.

The blood from the first therapeutic phlebotomy procedure is not used for transfusion purposes, as per international donation guidelines. A charge will apply for the first phlebotomy and any subsequent phlebotomies where the blood must be discarded due to the underlying diagnosis or other deferral criteria.

It is recommended that the first phlebotomy takes place at the WCBS Headquarter Clinic in Ndabeni or the regional branches in Paarl, Worcester or George, in order for staff to assess and interview the donor. Subsequent therapeutic phlebotomies may take place at other clinic sites provided the donor is able to tolerate the phlebotomy procedure comfortably.

We accept new therapeutic donors between the ages of 16 years and 75 years, although special criteria apply for new donors between the ages of 70 – 75 years. Elderly donors are required to obtain regular permission from their doctors to continue donating blood.

Download registration forms:

For therapeutic phlebotomy enquiries please feel free to contact Sr Tania Paarman, Manager – Specialised Donations.

Sr Tania Paarman: Telephone +27 (0)21 507 6393 | Email Tania@wcbs.org.za

WCBS currently provide 101 emergency blood banks, stocked with variable quantities of O RhD negative and O RhD positive emergency blood, for use in life-threatening emergencies when there is no time to wait for crossmatched blood from a Blood Bank. The banks are situated at hospitals and healthcare facilities that do not have a Blood Bank onsite; exceptions apply.

Group O RhD negative emergency blood is a particularly scarce resource and is known to be used irresponsibly. This product should strictly be used for RhD negative patients who urgently require red cell transfusions. In times of critical shortage, the restrictions should extend to only transfusing RhD negative women of child-bearing age with O RhD negative emergency blood. The risk of transfusing RhD negative patients with RhD positive red cells relates to the potential development of RhD antibodies that could affect future pregnancies and transfusion with RhD positive blood. Interestingly, up to 15% of RhD negative people show no immunogenic response to RhD positive transfusions and immunosuppressed patients are likely to demonstrate a muted or absent response.

If the RhD status of the patient is unknown, a RhD slide test should first be performed. The test is quick and results are available within 15 – 60 seconds.

It is important to note that patients are more likely to be RhD positive as the rate in the South African population is approximately 95%.

Crossmatched blood is the safest product for the patient, but there are urgent situations where there may not be sufficient time to wait.

Ideally, no more than 4 units of group O RhD emergency blood should be transfused, due to potential incompatibility issues of non-ABO red cell antigens. If the clinician anticipate that the patient may need more blood, it would be best to transfer them to a hospital that has quicker access to a Blood Bank, to receive crossmatched blood.

In the event that only O RhD positive blood may be available for a RhD negative patient, it is advisable to administer anti-D immunoglobulin at a dose of 125 IU (25 µg).

The emergency blood stock is replenished by WCBS as soon as it is used and on notification from the hospital/healthcare facility. Unused emergency blood stock is replenished at approximately 3-weekly intervals.

We encourage clinicians to adhere to these guidelines to ensure that O negative emergency blood is reserved for the patients who need it most.

For emergency blood enquiries please contact Nawaal Gamieldien, WCBS Emergency Blood Bank Co-ordinator.

Nawaal Gamieldien: Telephone +27 (0)21 507 6476 | Cell +27 (0)83 564 9297 | Email Nawaal@wcbs.org.za

Red cell components are useful for their iron-rich stores and oxygen-carrying capacity. Red cell transfusions are indicated for a wide range of medical and surgical conditions resulting in acute or chronic anaemia.

Buffy-coat Depleted Red Cell Concentrate

Volume: 250 ml to 350 ml
Haematocrit: 0.5 l/l to 0.7 l/l
Leucocyte count: ≤1 x 109/unit
Anticoagulant: CPD
Additive solution: SAGM
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 42 days

Pre-storage Leucocyte Depleted Red Cell Concentrate

Volume: 210 ml to 310 ml
Haematocrit: 0.5 l/l to 0.7 l/l
Leucocyte count: <1 x 106/unit
Anticoagulant: CPD
Additive solution: SAGM
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 42 days

Leucocyte Depleted Red Cell Concentrate (filtered in the Blood Bank)

Volume: 210 ml to 310 ml
Haematocrit: 0.5 l/l to 0.7 l/l
Anticoagulant: CPD
Additive solution: SAGM
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 24 hours

Whole blood products are rarely indicated for use in massive haemorrhage and neonatal exchange transfusions. Red cell components are more appropriate for use in situations where oxygen-carrying capacity requires boosting.

Whole Blood

Volume: 468 ml to 558 ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 21 days

Whole Blood Leucocyte Depleted

Volume: 425 ml to 525 ml
Leucocyte count: ≤ 5 x 106/unit
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 24 hours if prepared in the Blood Bank and 21 days if prepared in Components Processing

All infant and paediatric blood products are leucocyte-depleted to reduce the risk of alloimmunisation, immune-mediated adverse transfusion reactions and disease transmission.

Infant Red Cell Concentrate

Volume: 35 ml to 75 ml
Haematocrit: 0.5 l/l to 0.7 l/l
Anticoagulant: CPD
Additive solution: SAGM
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 42 days

Paediatric Red Cell Concentrate

Volume: 90 ml to 150 ml
Haematocrit: 0.5 l/l to 0.7 l/l
Anticoagulant: CPD
Additive solution: SAGM
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 42 days

Haemoconcentrate

Product code: LEURHL
Volume: n/a
Haematocrit: ≥ 80 %
Red cell recovery: ± 80 %
White cell removal: > 95 %
Red cell concentrate: ≤ 72 hours
Anticoagulant: CPD
Additive solution: SAGM
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 24 hours after processing

Washed Pre-storage Leucocyte Depleted Red Cell Concentrate

Product code: LRWRBC
Volume: > 185 ml
Haematocrit: 0.5 l/l to 0.7 l/l
Total protein content: < 5 mg/unit
Anticoagulant: CPD
Additive solution: SAGM
Washing solution: Sodium chloride solution B.P. 0,9 %
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 24 hours

Paediatric Single Donor Platelet

Volume: 100 ml to 200 ml
Platelet count: ≥ 1.0 to 2.3 x 1011/l
Anticoagulant: ACD-A
Storage temperature: 20 °C to 24 °C
Shelf life: 5 days

Infant Single Donor Platelet

Volume: 40 ml to 60 ml
Platelet count: 0.5 to 0.9 x 1011/l
Anticoagulant: ACD-A
Storage temperature: 20 °C to 24 °C
Shelf life: 5 days

Paediatric Fresh Frozen Plasma

Volume: 100 ml to 160 ml
FVIII: C ≥0.7 IU/ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: Below minus 18 °C
Shelf life: 6 hours after removal from storage

Paediatric Fresh Frozen Plasma Leucocyte Depleted

Volume: 100 ml to 160 ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: ≤24 °C
Shelf life: 6 hours after removal from storage

Fresh Frozen Plasma Low Titre Anti-T

Volume: 210 ml to 350 ml
FVIII: ≥0.7 IU/ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: Below minus 18 °C
Shelf life: 6 hours after removal from storage

Cryoprecipitate Low Titre Anti-T

Volume: 9 ml to 11 ml
FVIII: ≥80 IU/unit
Fibrinogen: ≥12 mg/ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: Below minus 18 °C
Shelf life: 4 hours after removal from storage

Paediatric Whole Blood

Volume: 140 ml to 200 ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: 2 °C to 6 °C
Shelf life: 21 days

Platelets are responsible for cessation of bleeding at the sites of endothelial injury. Platelet transfusions are indicated for the prevention or management of active bleeding as a result of reduced platelet numbers (thrombocytopenia) or abnormalities of platelet function. There are three types of platelet products that differ according to their mode of collection, donor exposure and cost. Random donor platelet products (RDP) are collected from multiple donor buffy coats whereas single donor platelet products (SDP) are derived from the collection of platelets from one donor by apheresis technique. SDP products should be reserved for use in patients with chronic platelet transfusion needs so as to limit their exposure to donor platelet antigens and potential alloimmunisation (platelet antibody formation). Leucocyte reduced RDP products can also be requested that significantly reduce the risk of antibody formation to donor platelet antigens.

Pooled Random Donor Platelet

Volume: > 40 ml per unit in the pool
Platelet count: ≥ 2.4 x 1011/unit
pH (within 24 hours of expiry): ≥ 6.4 at 22 ºC to 24 ºC
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: 20 ºC to 24 ºC
Shelf life: 5 days

Single Donor Platelet

Volume: ≥ 200 ml
Platelet count: ≥ 2.4 x 1011/unit
Leucocyte count: ≤ 5 x 106/unit
pH: > 6.4 at 20 ºC to 24 ºC
Anticoagulant: ACD-A
Storage temperature: 20 ºC to 24 ºC
Shelf life: 5 days

Leucocyte Depleted Pooled Random Donor Platelet

Volume: ≥ 200 ml
Platelet count: ≥ 2.4 x 1011/unit
Leucocyte count: ≤ 5 x 106/unit
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: 20 ºC to 24 ºC
Shelf life: 6 hours after filtration

Plasma products are derived by the centrifugation of anticoagulated whole blood within 18 hours of donation. These products are typically prescribed for the replacement of coagulation proteins (or clotting factors). Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) contains all the clotting factors at normal physiological levels and can be leucocyte-depleted to reduce the risk of immune-mediated adverse transfusion reactions. Cryoprecipitate is formed by the thawing of FFP and precipitation of the product that is rich in Factor VIII, Factor XIII and fibrinogen.

Fresh Frozen Plasma

Volume: 210 ml to 350 ml
FVIII: C ≥0.7 IU/ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: Below minus 18 ºC
Shelf life: 6 hours after removal from storage

Leucocyte Depleted Fresh Frozen Plasma

Volume: 210 ml to 350 ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: ≤ 24 ºC
Shelf life: 6 hours from time of removal from storage

Cryo Poor Fresh Frozen Plasma (Cryosupernatant)

Volume: 200 ml to 340 ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: Below minus 18 ºC
Shelf life: 6 hours after removal from storage

Cryoprecipitate

Volume: 9 ml to 11 ml
FVIII: C ≥80 IU/unit
Fibrinogen: ≥12 mg/ml
Anticoagulant: CPD
Storage temperature: Below minus 18 ºC
Shelf life: 4 hours after removal from storage

WCBS provide irradiated blood products, on request from the clinician.

Blood irradiation results in the eradication of donor T-lymphocytes in the blood product, for the purpose of prevention of transfusion associated graft versus host disease. For more information about the indications and benefits of blood irradiation, please refer to the Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Blood Products in South Africa, 5th Edition.

Please note that there is an additional cost for the irradiation procedure.

Blood irradiation is performed at the Groote Schuur Blood Bank and Tygerberg Blood Bank,  thus, timeous ordering is required.

For more information, contact your closest Blood Bank.

Babies may require multiple red cell concentrate infusions for the management of prolonged anaemia. Through the Limited Donor Exposure Programme (LDEP) doctors can reserve a minimum of two up to a maximum of four units of single donor infant red cell concentrates for their patient. The advantages of LDEP include reduction in donor exposure for the baby to limit the risk of red cell alloimunisation and infection transmission.

The clinician must clearly indicate “LDEP” on the cross-match laboratory request and the number of units to be reserved. If the quantity is unspecified, the Blood Bank will reserve a minimum of two units for the patient. A new Blood Bank sample is required if the previous unit of blood or blood product was issued more than forty-eight hours before.

Neonates who possess irregular red cell antibodies are ineligible for the LDEP. As there is a risk of transfusion-related haemolysis in cases of necrotising enterocolitis (confirmed by the crypt antigen test), neonates who test strongly reactive for crypt antigen are ineligible for the LDEP unless the clinician in charge specifically requests an infant red cell concentrate and accepts responsibility for the transfusion.

For more information, contact your closest Blood Bank.

WCBS will review requests for blood for non-clinical use, from tertiary training institutions, tertiary training affiliated organisations, diagnostic testing laboratories and life science companies, subject to procedures.

To request blood for non-clinical use, please address a letter, on a letterhead, to the WCBS Hospital Liaison Officer.

Please include the following particulars:

    • Name and contact particulars of researcher/requestor.
    • Type of blood product/samples required. For example, buffy coat, expired red cell concentrate, expired fresh frozen plasma and expired whole blood.
    • Usage requirements. That is the blood product/sample volume, quantity, frequency (dates) required.
    • Purpose for which samples are required. For example, research, population reference ranges, instrument evaluation and reagents.
    • Evidence of research institution’s ethics committee approval.
    • Process to ensure safe disposal of the blood pack or sample tubes

Feedback will be provided after the request has been reviewed.

For blood for non-clinical use queries, please contact Hayley Alie, Hospital Liaison Officer.

Hayley Alie: Telephone +27 (0)21 507 6326 | Cell +27 (0)83 454 3455 | Email hayleya@wcbs.org.za

Blood Bank Turnaround Times

Services Turnaround Times
STAT Crossmatch 20 – 30  minutes
Full Crossmatch 2 hours
Routine Crossmatch 2 hours or for when required
Group and Screen 2 hours
Red Cell Products with Repeat Electronic Crossmatch 10 minutes if repeat order
Crossmatch with Positive Antibody Screen 2 hours to 7 days depending on complexity of the antibody
Red Cell Products 2 hours
Washed Red Cell Products 6 – 9 hours
Haemoconcentrate Notify the day before by 13:00 (24 -36 hours) – not  available on Mondays
Single Donor Platelets 3 – 11 hours depending on if there are emergency platelets available or if it has to be bled
Random Donor Platelets 2 hours
Fresh Frozen Plasma 2 hours ( 30 minutes if a repeat order)
Antibody Titration 2 hours
Cryoprecipitate 2 hours (30 minutes if a repeat order)
Irradiation of Blood Products 2 hours depending on products
Group O Emergency Blood Stock Replenishment 10 minutes
Designated Donation Blood Products 2 days
Direct Coombs 2 hours
Coombs Auto 2 hours
Crypt Antigen Test 2 hours
Anti-T Titration 2 hours
Cord & Maternal (includes NaOH test) 2 hours
Blood request for peripheral stem cell transplant recipient 3 days, with the exception of HLA-matched platelets

The above-mentioned turnaround times (TATs) exclude transportation. If you wish to discuss the TATs, kindly contact your nearest Blood Bank.