More black blood donors

THE SOUTH AFRICAN National Blood Service (SANBS) said the number of black donors have significantly increased due to nationwide awareness campaigns.

“Primary to our objectives is educating as many people as possible about blood donation and in turn have them commit to blood donation… across all racial groups and return every 56 days,” Marelda Sibanyoni said.

Last year Wits Vuvuzela reported on the lack of black students participating in the SANBS blood drive and awareness campaign.

Sibanyoni added that the minimum amount of blood that SANBS aims to collect at the Wits University blood drive is 100 units per day over a five day period which translates into 500 units per week.  However, the improvement in blood donors is not always possible due generally low turnout.

According to the SANBS, 2 442 units were collected in 2012 over a series of nationwide blood drives.

Jessica Tovey, 2nd year speech and therapy, said donating blood is important and “makes a difference in someone’s life”.

She urged students to step forward and donate blood as her brother was once a blood donor. “Donating blood makes a small difference, as one day we might all need blood donation and I encourage people in donating blood as well,” Tovey said.

The SANBS has recently noted blood shortages around hospitals especially around holiday periods which directly impacts blood collections for patients in hospitals.

“Our donor base is made up of 412 000 people which is less than 1% of the South African population, and unfortunately it is not always possible to ensure that these donors donate a minimum of four times a year,” Sibayoni said.

The current stock levels are at 4.8 days which indicates healthy stock levels. However, this is not a fixed figure and changes every day and is entirely dependent on the number of people who give of their time and donate blood,” Sibanyoni said.

Christine Kouria, 2nd year speech and therapy, said sceptics of blood donation are often the recipients of blood transfusions.

All collected blood is destined for hospitals in the public and private sector, based on the needs of the hospitals.

Call for more black blood

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.