Health Public Health and Health Systems

Video: What happens to the blood you donate?

World Blood Donor Day. Experts warn of blood shortages during COVID-19 lockdown: (File photo)
Written by Kyla Herrmannsen

As South Africa observes National Blood Donor month, we take you behind the scenes into the labs of the South African National Blood Service (SANBS).

YouTube video

Here, a dedicated team processes donated blood and ensures that it passes stringent tests and analysis.

Each unit of donated blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis. Only blood that tests negative for all of these diseases is passed on to patients in need at blood banks and hospitals.

According to Eriana Booysen, head of processing at SANBS, the Service never has more than three days of blood stored up in its reserves. Due to this and the need to increase the blood reserves, the SANBS encourages people to consider becoming donors.

People between the ages of 16 and 65, who weigh more than 50 kilograms and lead a sexually safe lifestyle are eligible to register as donors.

A single donation of blood can save up to three lives, because technicians at the SANBS labs are able to separate the blood into different components – like plasma, platelets and red cell concentrates – to help various patients with different ailments.

An edited version of this story also appeared on

About the author

Kyla Herrmannsen

Kyla Herrmannsen is a television journalist with Health-e News. Follow her on Twitter @KylaHerrmannsen

Leave a Comment