All about blood donation

For certain procedures, you might consider designated donation. This is when friends or family members from the same blood group donate blood for your use.

Like autologous donation, designated donation can be used as an alternative to volunteer donor blood, but is only permitted for elective procedures. It can also be used on its own or in combination with your own blood.

Designated donation requires quite a bit of planning. Before the transfusion takes place, we’ll first need to obtain, test and process the required number of units. If you’re a willing donor, then you'll also need to fulfil the full health criteria expected from regular donors.


  • Recipients can choose which donor's blood they receive.
  • Designated donation gives the recipient peace of mind when facing stressful medical conditions.
  • Donors have the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped a friend or family member.


  • Studies have shown that designated donation may not actually be any safer than using blood from the general supply.
  • There are risks involved when using blood from a relative, such as the possibility of contracting graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a rare bone marrow compatibility disease.

If you’re a woman of childbearing age, designated donation from your husband and his relatives is not advised. There’s a lot of science involved, but in short it boils down to the fact that it could affect the safety of future pregnancies.

A friend or family member may also not donate if they have:

  • a history of hepatitis (jaundice)
  • visited a malaria area recently
  • had diarrhoea or vomiting in the past 30 days
  • had dental work three days or less before donation
  • a current minor infection (with or without antibiotic therapy)
  • a history of sexually transmitted disease
  • changed sexual partners in the last six months
  • a serious medical condition

Blood obtained through designated donation is more expensive than voluntary blood. There is no charge for the blood itself, but donors are charged for the donation procedure, testing, cross-matching and delivery.

You might also be charged extra if we have to obtain and transport blood from relatives outside of the Western Cape. And lastly, all charges are billed – whether the transfusion takes place or not.

Good to go?

Contact the Specialised Donation Unit at the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service on 021 507 6320 for an appointment. As a designated donor, you’ll be required to complete our standard donor questionnaire. Recipients will also have to supply a donation request form completed by their doctor.