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 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

• What blood group is needed the most?
Why should people donate safe blood?
• Can a unit of blood save more than one life?
• Does all donors’ blood get used to make components?
• Why is this?
• So how does it work then?
• What is regular donation?
• Who receives blood?
• What is safe blood?
• What infections can be transmitted by blood?
• Who should not give blood?
• Who are the safest donors?
• Isn’t the blood tested?
• What tests do NAMBTS use?
• Do you test blood at random?
• How safe is it to donate blood?
• Can you get AIDS from donating blood?
• Who qualifies to become a blood donor?

 
     
 

What blood group is needed the most?
Group O blood is always in need. This is because it can be given to patients of any group in an emergency. One out of three people belong to Group O, so the chances of this blood group being used in hospital is much greater than for any other blood group. Compare it to bread: if more people eat white bread than any other bread, then surely the supermarkets will have more white bread on their shelves, to cater for their customers’ needs. It’s a simple principle of supply and demand.    TOP

Why should people donate safe blood?
Safe blood saves lives. Every day, thousands of people would die if others did not donate their blood.    TOP
 

Can a unit of blood save more than one life?
Blood is composed of several different elements, including red cells, plasma and platelets, each of which fulfils a particular function. These can be used for specific purposes so that each unit of blood can be used for more than one patient.    TOP

Does all donors’ blood get used to make components?
The more regularly you donate, the better the chance of your donated unit getting used for all components.   TOP

Why is this?
NAMBTS has found that regular donors are the safest donors. These people are familiar with the danger of the window period and they know what risk behaviour entails. They have been through all NAMBTS’s education processes.     TOP

So how does it work then?
If you are donating blood for the first time, your red blood cells will be used and your plasma quarantined until your next donation. The platelets from your donation will be discarded. If all tests come back negative after your second donation, the quarantined plasma from your first donation will be used. Once you have made three donations and your blood still tests negative for transmissible diseases, all the components of your blood will be used. You have to donate blood regularly!    TOP

What is regular donation?

People can donate blood every 56 days. A regular donor is someone who has made three or more donations in a year.    TOP

Who receives blood?
Transfusions are given to:
• Patients undergoing surgical operations
• Patients with cancer or leukaemia
• Patients with severe anaemia
• Patients with some infectious diseases, including malaria
• Accident victims
• Women who haemorrhage as a complication of pregnancy    TOP

What is safe blood?
Safe blood is blood that does no harm to the person who receives it. Safe blood can be life-saving, but contaminated blood, or blood that is transfused to the wrong patient, can cause serious illness or even death to the recipient.   TOP  

Blood is unsafe if, at the time of the donation, any infection is present in the donor’s blood that can be transmitted by transfusion to the patient.    TOP

What infections can be transmitted by blood?
The most important infections that can be transmitted are:
• HIV, which leads to AIDS
• Hepatitis B
• Hepatitis C
• Syphilis     TOP

Who should not give blood?
• People who have or may recently have contracted a sexually transmitted disease such as HIV or syphilis, which can be passed on to a patient through their blood.
• People whose lifestyle puts them at increased risk of contracting an infection that can be transmitted through their blood: for example, if they have had more than one sexual partner in the past six months, or if they have had sexual contact with someone who’s sexual background is unknown to them.
• People who have ever injected themselves with drugs.
• People who want to have an AIDS test.    TOP

Who are the safest donors?

Voluntary, non-remunerated (unpaid) donors who give blood regularly are the safest blood donors. Research from many countries shows that people who give blood freely and without any financial reward have little reason to conceal information about their lifestyle that may make them unsuitable to give blood, either temporarily or permanently. Their primary motivation is to help other people and not to obtain any personal benefit, except the satisfaction of knowing they have helped to save someone’s life. The life of every person who receives blood depends on the honesty of the individual donors who have given their blood.    TOP

Isn’t the blood tested?

Even though every single unit of blood donated undergoes sophisticated testing for transmissible diseases, there is still a window period when the presence of HIV or some other infectious agent in the blood cannot be detected through testing. A person may be infected with HIV without knowing it and it is for this reason that we ask that any person who has taken part in high risk behaviour not to donate blood.    TOP

What tests do NAMBTS use?
NAMBTS testing includes Nucleic acid Amplification Technology (NAT) tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C on every unit of blood that is donated. This is a very sensitive test, which detects the presence of the viruses in the blood very early. Namibia is among the first countries in the world to have implemented NAT for individual testing of blood.    TOP

Do you test blood at random?

No. With every donation, your blood gets tested. So, if you have donated blood 300 times, your blood still gets tested every time you donate.     TOP

How safe is it to donate blood?

The Blood service would never do anything to put you, the donor at risk. The needle is brand new and sterile and has a sealed cover. When you donate blood, this seal is broken and the needle removed from its cover in front of you. After use, it will be disposed of by incineration.  TOP

As a donor, you also have to complete a Questionnaire, with questions on your health and lifestyle. The questions are asked to ensure that it is safe for you to donate blood and that your blood is safe for a patient to receive. A finger prick test will also be done to check your iron levels. Your blood pressure will also be measured, to ensure you are fit to donate. Sterile equipment is used at all times with every blood donation while Professional nurses conduct the procedure.   

Can you get AIDS from donating blood?
No, absolutely not. All needles and finger prick lancets are sterile and used once only. After use, each lancet and needle is placed in a special medical-waste container and incinerated. Trained staff is employed to collect all blood donations and strict protocols are followed.     TOP

Who qualifies to become a blood donor?

If you are between the ages of 16 and 65, weigh more than 50 kgs and lead a safe lifestyle, you can come to a clinic and register as a blood donor.    TOP