In case you’re wondering, we ask the experts at South African National Blood Service (SANBS) if donating blood could be bad for you…

Donating a unit of blood can help save lives, but did you know that frequent blood donation also has health benefits for donors?

According to SANBS, donating blood has been shown to lower the iron levels in the body of the donor every time they donate, thereby reducing the risk of cancer, heart and other diseases. 

Regular blood donors reduce the risk of blood viscosity, which is an individual’s blood thickness or stickiness and the ability of blood to flow through the blood vessels, which can cause heart attacks and strokes,” says Silungile Mlambo, spokesperson for SANBS.

One unit of blood saves three lives

Mlambo says that when someone donates blood, they give patients the gift money cannot buy, or science cannot create.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

“A unit of blood can save up to three lives as blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets. While many people may be reluctant to take the time to do this – or they may just be scared of a tiny needle – these very minor inconveniences pale into insignificance when compared with the benefits to the country and society from active and regular donations. When tied in with the fact that donating is also very good for the donor, then you would expect more people to be donating.”

The critically low number of donors

However, the reality is that the SANBS is critically low on donors.

While most South Africans will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives, alarmingly, fewer than 1% of South Africans regularly donate blood.

Only 1% of South Africans donate blood

“It just takes 20 minutes, and with blood drives all over the country, it’s never been easier. What we really need is for more people to develop a habit of donating blood to ensure that, in cases of emergency, quality blood is always available,” says Mlambo.

SANBS aims to collect an average of 3 000 units of blood every day nationally and is on a major countrywide drive to connect with more potential donors.

To find out where you can donate, visit 

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.