Stirred by the extensive shortage of blood across the country, Rail Park Mall in partnership with the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) will this month host a weeklong blood donation drive at the mall for members of the public.

The initiative held annually since 2015 is part of Rail Park Mall and NBTS’ “commitment to support the local community” and encourage them to donate blood to relieve the bleeding national blood bank.

Rail Park Mall’s Centre Manager, Bonyana Masu said seeing to it that February is the month of love, the mall saw it fit to partner with NBTS to host a public activation in harmony with Valentine’s Day, thus encouraging the public to be compassionate and show love by giving blood.

“As the mall, we were largely prompted by the national outcry from NBTS about blood shortage in the country hence the need to create this relaxing platform and take advantage of the masses, location and accessibility. In addition, partnering with NBTS was another way of creating the coveted opportunity to educate the masses and spread the message to our varied shoppers within a confined and relaxed sphere,” added Masu.

The blood donation drive, which will be held from February 12th – 17th is a collaboration between Rail Park Mall and National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), and has been held since 2015 to help increase blood supply in Botswana.

Masu added, “We believe there is a lot that needs to be done since not all citizens are aware of the importance of donating blood unless they are somehow affected directly. Despite our continuous and annual support for this initiative, the numbers were really not satisfactorily. However, we will not lose hope but rather continue to come up with different strategies to entice more potential donors to come forth until we reach our desired target.”

Keletso Sebogodi, Rail Park Mall Marketing Executive, said: “As a one of Botswana’s biggest malls, it is our responsibility to support our local community and those in need. We hope to raise awareness and educate the masses through this initiative on the numerous benefits of donating blood. We are always keen and proud to host such events at Rail Park Mall, which highlights the many ways we can all make an important contribution to our local community through these worthy causes especially taking advantage of the mall’s 800, 000 foot traffic per month.”

“We have even made this event exciting by encouraging the public to register a group of 12 blood donors, donate blood during the stated dates, and one lucky person will stand a chance to win an all-expenses paid day trip to Sun City (Valley of Waves). There’s also lots of mysterious prizes to be won too. So, do the right thing, give blood, give now, and give often.”

For her part, Botswana National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), Blood donor Recruiter, Tumelo Ramalebang, said blood donation offers many benefits to both the donor and the recipient. While the recipient receives the specific blood type s/he needs to recover from illness or injury, the donor also benefits from the process, as donating blood is believed to help in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as certain forms of cancer.

Ramalebang said the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that countries must collect blood units equivalent to 2% of their population, which equates to about 40, 000 for Botswana.

“We have never really managed to meet the set target, currently we are at only 24, 088, which is 60% of the set target by WHO. Individuals aged between 16 – 65 years, weighing 50kgs, healthy and not taking any treatment can donate blood. Potential donors should have eaten at least 4 hours before donating.”

Quizzed what the donated blood is used for, Ramalebang said it comes in handy for patients with cancer, anaemia and bleeding disorders, victims of burns , road accidents as well as during operations and deliveries.

She said other than the upcoming blood donation drive, those wishing to donate blood can do so at various blood collection centres around the country such as Gaborone, Francistown, Mahalapye, Serowe, Maun, Molepolole and Princess Marina Hospital.

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