Western Province app tackles blood donation fatigue

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The WP Blood app aims to aid with mobilising more donors.
The WP Blood app aims to aid with mobilising more donors.

The Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS) has developed and introduced a mobile app that will facilitate the administration of donating blood, as well as mobilise for more participation in blood donation within the province.

The WP Blood app is a result of a partnership between WPBTS, NXT Digital Innovation and Tracker. NXT Digital Innovation provides digitally-led services and products, and has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

According to the company, WP Blood has seen almost 5 000 Android app downloads and just over 1 500 Apple app downloads since its launch. There has also been a significant increase in new donors in just under a month.

The app utilises user profiles to inform donors when their blood type is in short supply and directs them to the nearest mobile or static blood donation points. It also keeps track of the time since a donor made his or her last donation, reminds the user of the next donation date, and gives the donor a platform to inform friends and family of the shortage.

WPBTS will also send alerts for special events or other seasonal campaigns, as well as personal alerts to remind people to donate.

Marlize van der Merwe, WPBTS spokesperson, says the app is a first of its kind in SA. "The app will make locating a clinic easier for our donors and the app enables us to communicate to our donors on another platform. The launch could not be more timeous, considering that winter is when we typically see a significant drop in blood donations."

WPBTS statistics indicate that less than 1.5% of the Western Cape population regularly donates blood, while up to 75% of people in the province will require blood at some point in their lives.

"New, regular donors are always needed. Therefore a system needed to be put in place to make locating a blood donor clinic easier. While donors from all blood groups and communities are important, there is a particular need for donors with blood types O to donate regularly as stocks of these are more vulnerable to shortfalls. There is also a need for more black African people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients," she notes.

NXT chief innovations officer David Oosthuizen says the app includes a storytelling element that includes real testimonials about how a blood donation has helped. "This is so important for creating awareness, especially among young people, who tend to think they are invulnerable and therefore don't need to donate."

WP Blood is available for free download on iTunes and Google Playstore:

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