Walmer Sun reporter
THE festive season is synonymous with blood shortages and the South African National Blood Service is appealing to the public to donate blood before going on holiday this year.
Throughout December there will be several clinics at various locations in Walmer, starting tomorrow at Re/Max on Main Road from 10am to 3pm.
The SANBS is appealing for people not to leave it up to someone else to do, but to get involved in donating blood at a time of the year when it matters most.
Every year the blood service has to impose cut-backs during the festive season, which essentially means that fewer units are issued than requested by doctors, said SANBS public relations practitioner of the Port Elizabeth branch Maryke Harris.
She said this was necessary in order to preserve blood stocks during this challenging time and to have enough blood to treat patients during emergency situations.
“There are so many people for whom blood donations are a life-line.
“If you are not personally in a situation where blood is required as part of your medical treatment, it is quite hard to imagine how important an adequate safe blood supply is,” Harris said.
Another way of getting involved is through platelet donation. The ideal platelet donor is someone who regularly donates blood, has good veins, weighs more than 55kg and who has two hours to spare for the procedure.
Platelet donors can donate as often as monthly whereas normal blood donors can only donate blood every 56 days.
“The procedure is similar to blood donation but only platelets are harvested and all other blood components are returned to the donor.
“Usually, a minimum of two pediatric and one adult product of platelets can be made from a single donation which means that up to three patients can receive products from one donation,” Harris said.
Platelets are often used for the treatment of children and adults with cancer or leukaemia after having radiation and chemotherapy.
Bone marrow and organ transplant patients as well as those suffering from aplastic anaemia also rely on platelet transfusions.
The shelf life of platelets is only five days, said Harris, therefore the donation of platelets is only done on an appointment system.
Blood donors can donate blood every 56 days, must be between the ages of 16 and 65, weigh 50kg or more and lead a safe lifestyle.
If you are interested in signing up as a platelet donor, contact the Special Donor Services Centre on (041)391-8217.
Other Walmer clinics will be held from 9am to 3pm on December 12 at Builders Warehouse and Kings Court, from 11am to 5pm on December 28 at Walmer Park Shopping Centre Dischem Court and from 9am to 2pm on December 31 at Moffett on Main Lifestyle Centre.