For The People

Blood Transported by Drone

With winter creeping in on us and blood donor day fast approaching, SANBS (South African national blood services) with Western Cape blood services have hatched a plan to deliver emergency blood to hospitals by a drone.

A Tron unmanned aerial vehicle took off from North Eastern radio flyers in Sandton. A test was conducted on Thursday to see whether the unmanned aerial vehicle would be capable of delivering the fake blood. As expected it landed safely arriving a few minutes later. Soon the drone will be tested with real blood from banks and hospitals. The drones could offer speedy access to remote areas of South Africa in emergencies,the UAV will be a first for South Africa and potentially save many lives according to the SANBS. They believe that this is a game changing step in the history of blood transfusions.

SANBS is determined to improve rapid access to life saving blood products in rural areas through the use of the drone technology” said Dr Jonathan Louw,CEO of SANBS. The concept is said to be globally unique allowing two-way logistics; patients can receive emergency “0 negative blood from one of our blood banks via drone. The same drone can then take that patient’s blood sample to the blood bank for comprehensive cross-matching and then safely and rapidly deliver compatible blood back to the patient.

This is what the SANBS has been looking for in order to save lives through delivering emergency blood to hospitals as far away as 100km away from the blood banks. The UAV will fly at an altitude of 100m in the air without having to navigate traffic and will be able to carry the equivalent of four units of blood. Though it will be a while before a UAV like this will be licensed to fly in South Africa,civil aviation authority noted that a UAV like this must also adhere to aviation laws surrounding the transportation of blood classified as dangerous goods.

World Blood Donor Day is commemorated annually on 14 June in a global celebration of the millions of people throughout the world who give their blood on a voluntary, unpaid basis to save the lives of those in need. The day aims to raise awareness of the need for safe blood, to thank and honour those blood donors who make transfusion possible and to encourage regular blood donation by suitable donors.

Less than 1% of South Africans are active blood donors. A unit of blood only lasts 42 days after donation and, for this reason, it is important for blood donors to donate regularly. Donors can give blood as often as every eight weeks.

Every unit of blood can save a minimum of three lives as blood is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets. SANBS current blood stock levels are at five days,it urges the public to go and donate blood at the nearest blood bank. SANBS can also be found at shopping centers creating awareness on the importance of donating blood.

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