I write this blog from the waiting room at a local hospital. Not in an attempt to channel my chakras for the theme of the piece, but just because it’s my turn to whisk my mum around in a wheelchair and sip on tepid cups of hospital coffee while I wait for the various scans and tests to be completed.
Hospitals and clinics are places of healing and recovery with teams of dedicated staff and much hi-tech machinery and life-saving medication. But there is one substance, one priceless entity that man has not been able to recreate or manufacture; blood. The fluid that delivers necessary nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away. Accounting for 7% of human body weight, the average adult has roughly 5 litres coursing within them. So understandably, when something goes wrong with your blood, it can cause dramatic and sometimes fatal consequences. The ability to draw blood from a healthy individual and transfuse it to someone in need is fairly simple, yet enormously complex in it’s nature.
Early transfusions used whole blood, but modern medical practise commonly uses only components of the blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, clotting factors and platelets. And qualifying as a blood donor is really simple; you must be over 16yrs old, must weigh 50+kg, eat an iron-rich diet, and have a healthy immune system.
Every few weeks at Expand a Sign, staff eagerly roll up their sleeves to donate. Many of us have been touched and affected by the benefit of blood donation; from a loved one receiving much-needed pints during surgery, to replacing lost blood after an accident, or even to provide aide to Leukaemia patients. That twenty minutes spent in a chair, syphoning a pint of the rich red stuff from your arm, is priceless. The generosity of a blood donor will live within the recipient, offering hope and possibly saving their life. The South African National Blood Service currently has 3.3 days of blood stock and as a previous ‘beneficiary of blood’ myself, I now understand the real value of days like these, when the Expand a Sign employees come together to gift a stranger with the most priceless of presents.
If you would like to become a blood donor, visit www.sanbs.org.za or contact SANBS on 0800 11 9031.