The cost of blood… and why you should be donating!

honouring late son

The SANBS is a non-governmental organisation that receives no subsidy from the government and selling blood to hospitals is the only way to recover costs.


South Africa – Thousands of patients would die daily if there is insufficient quality blood in stock. When one donates blood, they give patients the gift money cannot buy or science cannot create. A unit of blood can save up to three lives as blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets.

The blood banks in South Africa are running low and have put a call out for donors to bring the stocks back up to a safe limit to save lives but many social media users have stated publicly that they will not donate because they have heard that it is “sold” to hospitals.

The truth is… it is but only to cover the costs of collection, testing, storage and delivery and the end-user is never really charged as these costs are covered by the Health Department in public hospitals and medical aids in private hospitals.

The SANBS is a non-governmental organisation that receives no subsidy from the government and selling blood to hospitals is the only way to recover costs.

“We provide blood and blood products to public and private hospitals.

The price varies depending on the blood product required. Our price list is available on our website. We sell a unit of red blood cells – the most common of the products we provide – to private hospitals for R3 739.87 incl VAT and to public hospitals for R2 895.60 incl VAT,” said SANBS Regional Marketing Manager Sifiso Khoza.

These costs are covered by the Health Department in public hospitals while costs in private hospitals are covered by medical aid but the expense is due to collection, rigorous testing measures which accounts for 50% of the cost, storage and delivery.

“We put each unit of blood donated through rigorous testing to ensure that a patient does not receive contaminated blood – which you can appreciate requires a lot of resources,” 

Khoza said that the National Health Act and the World Health Organisation prohibits payment or compensation for organ and blood donation which is why donation done voluntary.

“That is why we are so grateful to each and every one of our selfless donors for their heroic act in donating, which allows us to help save the lives of countless South Africans,” said Khoza.

What happens to your blood after the donation?

Less than 5% of blood is used as whole blood (the way you donated it). By separating the other 95% into its components; red blood cells, platelets and plasma, the unit you donated can save up to 3 lives. Which is wonderful considering the whole process takes only about 30 minutes.

Your platelets can be used for a cancer patient, plasma to replace clotting factors in a trauma patient and your red blood cells for patients who needed surgery or suffered complications during childbirth.

What happens to my blood after donation? Blood Donation South Africa SANBS

Donating safe blood means you are committed to participating in a vital community service to improve the quality of life, for patients in need of blood transfusions.

Less than 1% of South Africans are active blood donors. A unit of blood only lasts 42 days after donation and, for this reason, it is important for blood donors to donate regularly. Donors can give blood as often as every eight weeks.

Your blood saves lives.

Every unit of blood can save a minimum of three lives as blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets. SANBS aims to collect 3000 units of blood per day to ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply in the health care system.

Donating a unit of this “precious gift of life” saves lives of those in dire need of blood. One must develop a habit of donating blood in order for the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) to collect sufficient blood that will ensure that in cases of emergency quality blood is always available.

To find a donation centre near you, check here. You can also contact SANBS if you have any queries.

Sources: SANBS
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens.
Click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast, with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to and he truly believes that there’s good news all around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:

Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll hopefully leave you feeling a little more proudly South African.

Facebook Comments

The Good Things Guy
Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy. Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ten − 4 =