The SANBS is a non-profit organisation responsible for collecting, processing and distributing blood across South Africa.

Amid unexpected dips in supply, it carries out the mammoth responsibility of meeting the country’s demand for blood.

Silungile Mlambo, Chief Marketing Officer

Mlambo’s been with the SANBS for four years. Her role is to educate people about the importance of the SANBS and blood donation.

“Our purpose is to save patients’ lives. This is our raison d’être. The SANBS takes the lives of South Africans into its own hands. We are constantly working towards our vision of being ‘the cornerstone of health services in South Africa, through the gift of life’. My role is to encourage people to understand the importance of donating blood and, ultimately, give the gift of life themselves.

“When we think of blood donations being used, we tend to think of people getting transfusions after road accidents or during hospital operations. Both of these scenarios indeed exist and use a certain amount of available stock. But the reality’s more complex. A large amount of donated blood is transfused to mothers during child birth and for the treatment of cancer patients.

“One unit of donated blood can save three lives.”

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She says government pays for the blood used in public hospitals and medical aids cover patients in private ones. “The price isn’t only for the blood, but for the service,” she adds. “However, we don’t deny anyone blood.”

Dr Jackie Thomson, Medical Director

As a haematologist (a specialist in blood disorders), Thomson’s treated patients for over 20 years. She moved from her private practice to the SANBS two years ago, having been attracted to the organisation because of its ethics and the opportunity to help patients in both private and public sectors. “I reached a point where I asked how I could give back and distribute my knowledge,” she says.

Blood is the cornerstone of healthcare in SA, she says, because no modern healthcare system can operate without a blood transfusion system. She adds that while the organisation’s deeply grateful to donors, there are still patients who are lost due to blood shortages.

“People should be compelled by altruistic reasons to donate blood,” she says.

Tshepi Maesela, Chief Financial Officer

Maesela’s been with the SANBS for the past year. Her responsibility is to ensure that the organisation collects enough revenue and spends it responsibly. People pay for blood services for many reasons, she says. “We have to test the blood to ensure it’s safe for all patients. We also have to transport it across SA and pay for equipment like blood bags and needles.”

She believes people have a duty to give back to the country by donating blood. “When you do that, you’re giving of yourself to fellow South Africans.” she says.

For more info, visit: sanbs.org.za