Be a hero - Donate blood and save a patient’s life
Monday, 15 June 2015, 11:42
NATIONAL NEWS - June is National Blood Donor Month and ER24 is urging everyone eligible to donate and help those in need.
As an Emergency Medical Service provider that deals with a number of trauma cases on a daily basis, ER24 paramedics see the lifesaving effect blood donations have on patients.
Most trauma cases involve blood loss at some stage. Patients who require surgery or who have certain medical conditions are also likely to receive blood or blood products.
Severe blood loss can lead to a number of complications and result in death.
Lucas Bezuidenhout, the Bloemfontein Branch Manager, said, “Blood carries oxygen in the body. A reduction in blood volume from whatever cause, will have an effect on oxygen supply in the body. A person who has lost a lot of blood also loses the ability to supply vital organs with oxygen and remove waste products that will accumulate in the person’s system. Severe blood loss eventually affects all the organ systems. It is extremely important to restore blood flow to its normal capacity. Blood transfusions are vital to restore blood flow,” said Bezuidenhout.
Paramedics are trained to suspect if a patient has internal bleeding.
“We attend numerous trauma-related incidents where blood loss is anticipated or seen. These patients may require blood transfusions to survive. Paramedics try to stop or limit blood loss. Many patients bleed internally and can lose a lot of blood without immediately showing signs of blood loss. Paramedics are trained to suspect internal bleeding and apply treatment. These patients need to get to hospital soon as surgery is likely needed to stop the bleeding,” he said.
He added that most people who suffer internal injuries usually lose a lot of blood when injured and during surgery.
People who have severed arteries can lose a lot of blood in a short period of time. The body takes weeks to replace the lost blood volume, weeks that the injured person may not have. Hence a blood transfusion can be lifesaving.
Bezuidenhout urged people to donate blood.
There are certain requirements for those wanting to donate blood. Donors must be between the ages of 16 and 65, be a minimum weight of 50kg, be in good health and live a sexually safe lifestyle.
“A health questionnaire will be given to you and blood bank personnel will guide you through the process. It is vital to be completely honest when answering the questionnaire. In some cases people might experience dizziness after donating blood. Consult with the blood bank personnel if you have any questions.
There are benefits to your health if you donate blood. People struggling with headache or high iron concentrations in their blood might experience relief. The biggest benefit is that you will most certainly save a life. This makes you a hero,” said Bezuidenhout.
Vanessa Raju, the Brand and Communications Manager for the South African National Blood Service (SANBS), said they aim to collect a million units a year.
“Our donation targets based on demand increases on average of five percent year on year. We do aim to reach this, but our target is 3 000 units of blood to be collected nationally every day,” she said.
The SANBS goes through periods where collections decline as not many people donate. “This impacts on the availability of blood. We are approaching this period as we go deeper into winter,” said Raju.
There are a number of factors that lead to a decline in blood donations during winter.
“A huge percentage of the blood we collect in general comes from students at schools and universities. We lose access to them when they go on study break and then on holiday after exams.
“In winter we also have the added impact of the cold weather and people developing influenza for example. When people are sick they are not well enough to donate blood. We also experience a decline in collections during Easter, September and December. Reasons for the decline in December for example include companies that close for the holidays. As a result no blood drives are held at these companies,” said Raju.
There are a number of other reasons for the lack of donations in general such as people not having the time or people being scared of needles.
Raju urged people who are eligible to donate blood to do so. “If you or your loved ones needed blood what would you do to help? Where would the blood come from if others have not donated blood?” she asked.
Interesting facts about blood:
One unit of blood is 480ml. Just 480ml can save up to three lives. Blood is separated into plasma, platelets and red cells.
Majority of the blood collected goes to people with gynaecological complications, terminally ill patients and emergency cases (which includes victims of road collisions).
Blood from the O blood group is the most needed as this donor is a universal donor. Their blood can be given to patients of any other blood group.
Remember, blood cannot be collected and stored for when there is a shortage. Donate and make a difference.
ER24’s Emergency Contact Centre can be reached 24 hours a day on 084 124 for any medical emergency.
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