Durban — It’s a little-known statistic that just 1% of the South African population are regular blood donors.
This is a frighteningly small number in a country with our sad history of violence and road accidents, both of which will predictably increase exponentially in the coming days as alcohol consumption spikes with the onset of the festive season.
And both will require many blood transfusions to ensure those shot, stabbed, beaten and injured have a second chance at life.
Of course blood and its constituent parts are required in other circumstances too, including during pregnancy and for other gynaecological complications, and for premature babies and certain cancer patients, increasing the demand on this literally lifesaving resource.
It is for this reason that we salute people like our Page 1 heroes, Bob deVilliers and Dudley Stillwell.
Considering that only six donations are allowed per donor per year, decreasing as donors age, De Villiers’s 225 pints represent a commitment to donating carried over nearly 40 years. And at the age of 83 he is still bleeding strong.
Stillwell’s 450 donations across a range of categories, from the age of 18, is a truly lion-hearted effort. At 78 he, too, has no intention of stopping.
But what happens when people like De Villiers and Stilwell are no longer able to donate?
The country desperately needs more younger people to step up and offer an arm, and increase the pool of regular donors.
Already the SA National Blood Service has issued an appeal as stocks have dwindled to a gravely low supply. And with schools, tertiary education institutions and many businesses shutting down for the holidays, so do the opportunities for the blood service to hold collection clinics.
In this, the season of giving, what better gift can you offer than to anonymously afford a fellow human a chance to heal, to live?
As our heroes say, there’s a glass of good in everyone, and giving a little blood is not much, but it can help a lot of people.
Go on. Visit a donor centre and give the gift of life.
Independent on Saturday