By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia (BTS) has urgently appealed to its regular donors to give blood before they go on holiday. This will enable the centre to be fully prepared should an emergency arise during this festive season. It has now become a norm for fatal road accidents to reign supreme during the festive season and, as more accidents are anticipated, more blood would be needed by the injured. Although the centre has in the past few weeks managed to recover its bloodstock to its minimum levels, there is still need for more people to donate blood. In the worst road accident since the start of the festive season, 17 people lost their lives yesterday morning outside Grootfontein on the main highway to Rundu. According to the public relations officer and marketing adviser, Liesel Schwerdtfeger, they have recovered the blood with over 650 blood products for all blood groups in stock. However, the centre is experiencing a shortage of ‘O+’ whole blood. Looking at the Namibian population, 44 percent of people fall in the group ‘O’ blood category, while 42 percent are in group ‘A’, with the 10 percent categorized as ‘B’ and 2 percent as ‘AB’. However, the centre encourages those of especially ‘O’ group to donate blood because this group does not need cross-matching as such. It can be transfused to any patient. Blood products in stock include whole blood, red cell concentrate, paediatric red cell concentrate (baby products), she said. The demand for blood in the country is average, though it can be high during some seasons. Mainly, the period between February and May is viewed as the peak period, given the malaria cases in the northern parts of the country where patients are likely to be anaemic. During the festive season, more blood is needed because of the likelihood of accidents. Schwerdtfeger called on all Namibians to “help the centre to help others”. Even if minimum stock levels have been reached, there is still a need to collect at least 85 units a day, because every day stock is issued to hospitals. Namibians, especially the regular donors, have so far responded positively to this call by visiting fixed site clinics in Windhoek. Support was also good in Okahandja, Rehoboth and Gobabis last week and this week. Unfortunately, the totals collected at those clinics were below the usual quantity. Because of that, emergency clinics were held last Saturday at Wernhil Park, and at the Blood Transfusion Centre on the public holiday on Monday. The two extra clinics brought us an additional 62 units. Collections per day during this past week were between 66 and 96 units. The centre so far collects at least 85 units a day to have a safe supply of stock. “We thank the public for helping us get back to minimum stock levels. Keep coming to donate blood next week if you are due (56 days after your last blood donation), and if you are a new donor who wants to make that commitment to help others – you are welcome,” she requested.