The service was formed in 1946 as the Blood Transfusion Service (still often referred to as this) the name change came about in 1991 to reflect the move away from a regionally based service to a nationally organised one. The service operates out of 15 centres, and collects around 2.1 million donations per year and supplies 8,000 units of blood every day. Service directors proposed a reconfiguration and centralisation strategy in 2006, based on the closure of most local processing and testing labs, and subsequent operation out of just 3 large 'supercentres' to serve the same geographical area. Staff are opposed to this strategy, and it is now under review. The future organisation of NBS blood processing and testing is still to be agreed.
The service depends entirely on voluntary donations from the public. Blood donation sessions are set up through out the country and take place in many diverse venues. From village halls, to mobile collection units (known as Bloodmobiles), blood donation centres (in major towns and cities), and sessions set up companies and organisations so people can donate at work. Donors are generally required to be fit and healthy, weigh and be aged between 17 and 60. However, regular (healthy) donors are permitted to donate until the age of 70. Donors are encouraged to give blood up to four times a year (once every 16 weeks).
Following the donation (and subsequent dressing of the wound), donors are invited to refreshments. This period serves two vital purposes: to replace certain lost fluids, and to allow staff to maintain the donor's wellbeing.
Donations can also be taken by machines called cell separators, usually in larger blood donation centres located in city centres. These machines use a process called apheresis to collect either blood plasma only, or plasma and platelets, the other blood cells being returned to the patient. Platelets are the tiny fragments of cells in the blood which help it to clot and so stop bleeding, and are used in the treatment of cancer and leukaemia. A constant supply is vital because platelets only last five days once collected. People who give plasma and/or platelets can donate every two weeks, and each donation usually gives two or three adult doses. One adult dose of platelets would otherwise require four whole blood donations.
MSMs are banned for life under the policy; heterosexual people who have engaged in risky sexual practices (e.g. sexual activity with a prostitute or intravenous drug user) or who are returning from countries with a high rate of HIV infection are banned for one year. People who have recently had major surgery, acupuncture, tattoos, or body piercing are banned for six months.
Officials within the service maintain that despite their screening of blood for infections, no test can be always 100% accurate, and they feel the ban is still valid for safety reasons, as MSMs are at a higher risk of carrying blood transmitted diseases, such as HIV. According to the latest statistics (2005) from the Health Protection Agency a third of newly diagnosed individuals with HIV in the UK were MSM.
CDC ISSUES GRANTS NOTICE TO SUPPORT SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL BLOOD SERVICE TO STRENGTHEN ITS INFRASTRUCTURE IN ORDER TO PREVENT NEW HIV TRANSFUSION-TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS, TO BUILD THE CAPACITY OF ORGANIZATION TO DELIVER BETTER QUALITY OF SERVICE TO PATIENTS
Feb 12, 2010; WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 -- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues discretionary grants notice to support the South African...