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Pay it forward in 2019 by making regular blood donations. Committing to four donations during the year could save up to 12 lives - every unit of whole blood is separated into three lifesaving parts; red cell, platelets and plasma. If giving back in 2019 features top on your New Year's resolution list, then donating blood is a good start.

"Thank you to all our blood donors for their support during 2018 and specifically during the festive season, we managed to receive 12 727 blood donations over this time. This resulted in 38 181 lives saved", says Michelle Vermeulen, spokesperson for the Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS). "This year our goal is to reach 160 000 blood donations, in order to do this, we need your support," says Vermeulen.

Blood donation only takes 30 minutes of your time every 56 days. It requires you to be between the ages of 16 and 65, weigh over 50kg, be in good general health and lead a safe sexual lifestyle.  It does not cause you any bodily harm - only 475ml of blood is taken, and this is replaced within 24 hours.

Vermeulen advises donors to eat a substantial meal within the three to four hours before visiting a clinic and to increase their fluid intake before, during and after donation. Donors are advised not to over exert themselves after donating.

For more information, SMS "Blood" to 33507, call WCBS on 021 507 6300, e-mail info@wcbs.org.za or visit www.wcbs.org.za. Blood stock updates and interesting facts about donation can be found on Facebook (@TheWCBS), Twitter (@The_WCBS) and Instagram (@thewcbs) accounts. Download the WCBS app, which is available on all iOS and Android devices. It will show you the nearest clinic as well the current blood stock levels in real time.