KZN women need to pump more iron to be somebody’s type
Women donors to receive free iron tablets to boost blood reserves and for better health
SA women, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, are shying away from donating life-giving blood.
It’s not that they swoon at the sight of a needle. It’s because they lack iron.
A recent SA National Blood Service (SANBS) study found that KZN women donors emerged as having a low iron count, a phenomenon that has left doctors baffled.
“While it has not yet been established why donors in KwaZulu-Natal have lower haemoglobin levels, what we do know is that oral administration of ferrous sulphate tablets can very quickly restore the bodies iron stores,” said Dr Jackie Thomson, SANBS medical director.
In a bid to address the iron deficiency problem, SANBS has rolled out a pilot project in KwaZulu-Natal called #Ironstrong to boost the intake among donors.
The campaign, which kicked off on Monday, will run for three months, during which the SANBS will offer blood donors a one-month free supply of ferrous sulphate tablets following a whole blood donation.
Apart from improving iron levels, the SANBS hopes to increase the supply of high-quality blood to local medical facilities.
Iron deficiency is believed to bring on extreme fatigue, exhaustion, frequent infections, pale skin, hair loss and unusual cravings for ice and starch.
The SANBS study showed that women, especially between the ages of 16 and 45, have a higher risk of decreased iron levels because of menstruation and the demands of pregnancy.
The SANBS conceded that regular blood donations could also contribute to lower haemoglobin levels because iron is depleted when the body loses and replaces blood.
“Recovery and replacement of iron is key to ensure the health of the donor as well as the donated blood,” said Thomson.
“Lower iron levels is one of the most common reasons individuals are often discouraged from donating blood.”
She believes the campaign has the potential to “dramatically increase blood reserves” while improving the health of women.
FAST FACTS: Less than 1% of South Africans are active blood donors;
A unit of blood lasts only 42 days after donation;
Donors can give blood as often as every eight weeks;
Every unit of blood can save a minimum of three lives since blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets;
The SANBS aims to collect 3,000 units of blood per day to ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply in the healthcare system;
SA legislation prevents agencies like the SANBS from paying for donations.