Strict conditions for giving blood
Individuals with O negative is generally known as the universal donors and can give blood to anyone, and those with AB positive are generally known as the universal receivers and can receive blood from any other type. This is reversed when it comes to plasma.
However, Sealy said blood had a shelf life and could not be stored indefinitely. In addition, she said blood was made up of different components, most of which could be extracted and stored separately as needs demand.
“Blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets. We can extract platelets and plasma separately but while whole blood can be stored for 35 days, platelets can only be stored for five days and plasma can be frozen for a year.
“We should always have at least one or two units of every blood type available but if we do not, then we have a pool of volunteer donors we can call on short notice. We need more of these volunteers,” she said.
Not everyone can give blood though, as those with diseases such as hepatitis and HIV are on the permanent deferral list. Those with polycythaemia – too many red blood cells which can result in high blood pressure – and hemochromatosis – which results in unusually high levels of iron in the blood – are required to give blood regularly as part of their treatment. However, Sealy said this blood was not stored, but instead discarded.
In addition, people with fresh tattoos and/or piercings – within the past year – and those suffering with blood pressure or even exhibiting a high temperature are not allowed to give blood although Sealy said once someone had their blood pressure under control with medication, it was okay to give. She also said diabetics on insulin were ineligible.