Protest action leads to blood shortage

Image by Katie LaGrone

While we all are deeply concerned about how the protest action will affect our respective academic years, protests have contributed to another crisis: a blood shortage.

Given that, at a minimum, 40% of donated blood comes from blood drives at universities and schools, the closure of the majority of universities around South Africa is contributing to a large blood shortage. Many of us have made the long walk to Sports Centre One to donate blood during one of the many drives. However, the protest action has made it dangerous for mobile blood clinics to set up at South African universities. The inability to open these clinics has led to at least 150 units of blood lost per day since the strike action started.

According to the South African National Blood Services (SANBS), at any given time there should always be enough blood to last for the next five days. As it stands the SANBS does not have enough to last for the next two days. Given this major shortage, hospitals and patients are not able to provide and receive treatment respectively.

The donated blood is not only used to treat those who have been in car accidents and other emergencies but also those suffering with blood diseases as well as women who hemorrhage during child birth.

With the need for blood being at its highest during the December period, the SANBS would normally be stockpiling its blood reserves for the fast-approaching festive period. However, with so much uncertainty around how and if the protests will continue, it seems unlikely any will be able to pop up on campus any time soon.

The SANBS needs 3000 units a day in order to keep blood levels stable, and is encouraging anyone eligible to donate. To be eligible to donate, according to the SANBS, you must weigh at least 50kgs, be between the ages of 16 and 65 and lead a sexually safe lifestyle. Should anyone wish to donate blood, your closest donor centre can be found at or at the (toll-free) number 0800 11 9031.

We encourage any and all willing donors to donate, as just one unit of blood can save three lives.

Written by: Preshanthan Shunmugam

Originally published: