First township blood bank

SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - 18 September 2019 - Official Opening of the Khayelitsha Hospital Blood Bank. This is Western Cape Blood Service's newest 24-hour blood bank that will improve service delivery to the area. Lumka Funani, Medical Technician pick up donor blood stock from the cold room - Photographer - Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

Khayelitsha District Hospital has a new addition: a 24-hour blood bank, making it the first township hospital to have the ability to supply emergency blood to its patients whenever the need arises.

The Western Cape Blood
Service (WCBS) collects around 150 000 units of blood per year, which is given to trauma and accident victims, surgery patients, burn victims and people with blood diseases such as leukaemia

The opening of the new blood bank on Wednesday September 18 is part of the Khayelitsha Hospital’s Improvement Plan.

Dr Greg Bellairs, chief executive officer of the WCBS said it had been a long journey to establishing the facility and that while Mitchell’s Plain and other areas had also been considered, they felt that Khayelitsha was where it was most needed.

“It is our philosophy to go where there is a need for services. This is a life-saving intervention.

“We tried Mitchell’s Plain but we have put it where the requirement is high, where people need it most,” he said.

He said the process to establish a blood bank is a complex one as it required a lot of resources and blood stocks needed to be safe-guarded and stored in a stringently controlled environment.

He explained that each unit of blood donated was out through rigorous testing to ensure that a patient did not receive contaminated blood.

“We collect 150 000 blood units per year and supply it throughout the province. We have banks in Tygerberg Hospital, Somerset and in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. This is the first one in the township. This is a relatively small one to the others but it is a world class. Our clinicians have amazing expertise and will be here for 24 hours,” he explained.

Facility manager Karen Dramat said patients would get world class treatment and that the staff had expensive expertise and experience.

David Banzi said Khayelitsha was classified as a red zone, which required medics responding to incidents in the area to have a police escort.

He added that many patients sought treatment for gunshot and stab wounds.

“Blood is such a precious gift. This service is really where it should be. Gratitude to the donors. I want to make a call to people to donate blood. Blood saves lives,” he said.