The woman giving birth. The cancer patient. The man undergoing open heart surgery. The Easter weekend road accident victim.

All of these people – and those who love them – rely on one thing: blood donations. Their lives, their futures, are at stake. But South Africa’s blood stock is currently desperately low, and all of them are at risk.

“Our national blood supply is currently at just 1.6 days’ Group O stock, amounting to just over 1 500 units of O blood available around the country,” says Silungile Mlambo, national marketing manager for the South African National Blood Service (SANBS).

“The situation, simply, is critical. We need South Africans – active donors, lapsed donors and potential donors – to stand together right now to bolster the national blood stock.”

The looming Easter long weekend, when many South Africans drive long distances and road accidents increase, will certainly put additional pressure on the national blood supply. But Mlambo points out that incidents of trauma make up only a fraction of the demand for blood.

“While we need sufficient blood stock to cope with periods such as the Easter weekend, by far the greatest proportion of blood is required in other situations, such as in childbirth and for cancer patients.”

“So many people in life-threatening situations require blood. It’s what saves that haemorrhaging mother’s life, so that she can raise and love the baby she has just brought into the world. It’s what saves someone suffering complications during major surgery. It’s what helps that cancer patient endure and survive, treatment.

“And that’s the point: it’s not just blood. It’s saving people’s lives, through a simple, easy donation,” says Mlambo.

The SANBS is therefore making an earnest appeal for South Africans to step forward and make a donation of blood. Today.

“More than that, however, the SANBS appeals to South Africans to become regular donors. By donating blood only four times a year, we can easily avoid situations such as the one in which we find ourselves,” says Mlambo.

To find out more about donating blood and to locate your nearest SANBS donor centre, visit sanbs.org.za or call 0800 11 90 31.