For more than 70 years the default therapy for anaemia and blood loss was mostly transfusion. Accumulating evidence demonstrates a significant dose-dependent relationship between transfusion and adverse outcomes. This and other transfusion-related challenges led the way to a new paradigm. Patient blood management (PBM) is the application of evidence-based practices to optimise patient outcomes by managing and preserving the patient’s own blood. ‘Real-world’ studies have shown that PBM improves patient outcomes and saves money. The prevalence of anaemia in adult South Africans is 31% in females and 17% in males. Improving the management of anaemia will firstly improve public health, secondly relieve the pressure on the blood supply, and thirdly improve the productivity of the nation’s workforce. While high-income countries are increasingly implementing PBM, many middle- and low-income countries are still trying to upscale their transfusion services. The implementation of PBM will improve South Africa’s health status while saving costs.