Blood Donation Facts

I cheated… I copied from their website 😀

Becoming a donor

If you’ve already made the decision to donate and can’t wait to get on with the business of saving lives, then contact us right now to find out where your nearest donation clinic is taking place. Make sure you meet our basic donor criteria, that you eat something within three hours before visiting us and that you bring your ID with you for identification purposes. See you soon!

Are you thinking of becoming a donor, but still aren’t convinced?

Research statistics show that although 75% of the population in the Western Cape might require blood transfusions in their lifetime, a mere 1.5% are blood donors. Doesn’t add up, does it? If you’re otherwise healthy, it’s very likely that you can donate blood and help balance out these numbers. With a single donation you could save three lives – and it won’t cost you a cent. Find out more by reading through our donor criteria, and then check when the next clinic is happening in your area.

Or are you a nervous needle-hater?

If you’ve never done it before, blood donation can seem a little scary. The good news is that many people just like you have overcome their queasiness and discovered that giving blood really is no big deal. In the greater scheme of things, is a quick needle prick really enough to prevent you from saving lives? Find out exactly what you can expect, from registration and donor recognition, right through to cookies and cooldrink. We’ve also put together a list of the questions we hear most often, along with their answers, on our FAQ page.

Keen to learn more?

We’ve collected some truly fascinating information and statistics relating to blood:

Who can donate?

You’re eligible to donate blood if you…
  • Are between the ages of 16 and 65. You can still donate if you’re over 65 and are otherwise healthy, but we’ll need your physician’s consent. Read more about our Senior Citizens’ programme.
  • Weigh at least 50kg. In most cases, weighing less than 50kg means that you’re underweight, and it would therefore not be safe for you to donate.
  • Are medically healthy. Blood from a sick or medicated donor could impact negatively on the recipient. You will not be able to become a donor if you had jaundice or hepatitis after the age of 13, or if you’ve had cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, or a bleeding disorder. If you have questions about specific medications you might be taking, contact our Medical Sister.
  • Lead a safe lifestyle. Things that are considered risky include drugs, multiple sexual partners, and tattoos or piercings done in the past six months. For your own safety you won’t be able to donate blood if you are a competitive sportsperson training for a big event, or are involved in a hazardous occupation.
  • Are committed to helping others. Simple as that.
There are times when even the healthiest individual shouldn’t donate.

Before heading off to the clinic, read through our list of things that might make you temporarily ineligible to donate blood. If you’re unsure of whether or not you qualify generally or on a particular day, you’re welcome to contact us for clarification or ask the Medical Sister on duty at the clinic.

Health and Lifestyle questionnaire

The health and safety of our donors is as important as that of recipients, and so we have to make sure that you are not at risk when donating blood. We will ask you to complete a Health & Lifestyle Questionnaire each time you give blood, to ensure that you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle and to determine your medical history.

Blood groups

Every person belongs to one of eight blood groups. These blood groups, or blood types, are sub-types of the four larger ABO blood groups – A, B, AB or O. The Rhesus (Rh) system further divides these four groups into either Rh+ or Rh-, leaving eight blood types: O-, O+, B-, B+, A-, A+, AB- or AB+.

The most common blood type in South Africa is O+, and the rarest is AB-. Which one are you?

The biology of blood

ABO blood grouping is determined by the correlation of visible clumping in mixtures of plasma, the liquid component of blood, and the red cells, which carry oxygen.

The Rhesus system, first discovered in 1939, relies on the presence of antigens – the D antigen in particular. Antigens are molecules that bind to an antibody. A person either has or hasn’t got the Rh factor (D antigen) on the surface of their red cells, indicating a positive (Rh+) or negative (Rh-).

Blood group compatibility

Not all blood types are compatible. This is due to the differences in antibodies that occur in different blood types. While blood group A individuals have naturally occurring anti-B blood group antibodies in their plasma, blood group B has anti-A blood group antibodies and blood group O has anti-A and -B blood group antibodies.

So, for example, if a blood group B patient is given blood group A, the anti-A antibodies in their plasma will destroy the red cells in the transfused unit and lead to severe complications or even death.

Universal donors and recipients

Blood group O individuals are known as “universal donors”. They lack A and B blood group antigens which makes it possible for their blood to be given to all ABO types.

AB+ blood group individuals on the other hand are known as “universal recipients”. They lack naturally occurring anti-A and -B and can receive all ABO groups.

Rare blood types

Occasionally an individual is born with an unusual, specific red-cell antigen, or without an antigen that is common to most people. These differences are recognised as rare blood types and are difficult to match with regular blood groups due to antibody presence.

That is why compatibility tests on the blood of the patient and the donor are essential before every blood transfusion. It ensures that the recipient will not experience an adverse reaction.

 Which types are compatible?

Blood Group Chart

The chart above illustrates that group O blood is the most versatile.

Curious about your blood type? Register as a donor, and we’ll issue you with a Donor Card stipulating your blood group.

Go to their Website  for more information or check them out on Facebook

Go ahead… Save a life


Donating Blood

So this post is a while coming.

I donate blood. For so many reasons it’s something I enjoy doing. I like helping others and I like needles as evidenced by all my tattoos. And I’m O negative so I feel that I should.

I donated on Wednesday and during Christmas season it’s more important than ever.


Next post will have more info about how to donate and why and what happens during a donation.

And afterwards you’re left with a little mark that is barely noticeable


You can barely even see it