While academics warn that the academic consequences would be dire if classes at the country’s universities don’t resume soon, the student protests have already led to an unintended crisis: a blood shortage.
The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) says it has less than two days of blood supply – and is ringing an urgent alarm-bell and calling on its donors to assist.
There should always be enough blood to last five days.
Blood drives at university campuses and schools yield about 40% units of blood collected annually and although the SANBS has systems in place to minimise the effects of shortages experienced during exams, protests have been an unpredictable factor, the service said in a statement.
Dennis Ngongoma of SANBS told Northglen News that the student protests have made it dangerous for staff to set up mobile clinics at campuses, resulting in the loss of 150 units of blood per day.
This, in combination with preparations for end-of-year exams, is negatively impacting on the national blood supply.
Appeal to public
As a result of the dangerously low blood stocks, the SANBS is appealing to members of the public who are due for their regular donation to visit the nearest donor centre as soon as they can, because many lives will be affected by this.
“A shortage of blood hinders our ability to save hundreds of lives daily because, without an adequate supply, essential treatment for various patients cannot occur,” SANBS spokesperson Vanessa Raju says.
Blood is used for emergencies as well as treating people with blood diseases and women who haemorrhage while giving birth.
The SANBS must collect about 3000 units of blood daily in order to meet daily demand for this resource and keep stock levels above the two-day mark, the statement reads.
To find you nearest donor centre or mobile visit www.sanbs.org.za or call the toll-free number 0800 11 9031.