BLACK students have been urged to consider becoming donors during a five-day blood drive in Senate House this week. The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is on a publicity drive to reassure the black community that their donations are valued.

Nonny Vilakazi, a PhD student in palaeontology whose mother used to work for SANBS, said that some black people are reluctant to donate blood “because of the rumours three or four years back about black people’s blood being thrown away”.

SANBS Trainee Phlebotomist Zazi Thwala, whose own daughter needed a transfusion at the age of three months, said: “There are lots of accidents, especially taxis and buses and that increases demand for transfusions. We are the ones mostly who use public transport and we are the ones mostly in these accidents.”

Her colleague, Lazarus Ramolefo, confirmed the majority of donors are white. “There is a lack of education in the black community. But gradually black people have started coming, especially since the new blood donor centre opened at Maponya Mall. ”

Kentse Radebe, a 1st year industrial psychology student, first donated blood because “I just thought it would be cool to save a life”. She urged other students to become donors. “Your body produces more blood naturally, so it’s not like you are losing anything. It’s not costing you anything, so go out there and donate!”

While the students Vuvuzela spoke to recognised the benefits of donating blood, some still could not bring themselves to do it. “It’s a good cause and I would do it, but it freaks me out. I don’t like needles. If there was another way to do it, I would,” said Ashton Ray, a 3rd year speech and hearing therapy student who accompanied her friend who was donating blood on Tuesday morning.

SANBS had a daily target of 70 units. Each donor gives one unit of blood which is 500ml.

Students who have recently taken a course of antibiotics or had a tattoo done are encouraged to wait for seven days and six months respectively before applying to donate blood.