SANBS drains myth about black blood

Anelisa Ngcakani

Anelisa Ngcakani

Seventeen-year-old Rinae Munyai donated blood for the first time recently, and has proved some of his sceptical schoolmates wrong.

A pupil at Vuwani Secondary School in Soweto, Rinae said:  "My friends were present when we were taught about blood donation but they still didn't believe you don't die [after donating blood]."

Myths and the notion that black people's blood is unwanted are stopping many South Africans from being donors.

Loyiso Mpuntsha, the chief executive of the South African National Blood Service (SANBS), said the organisation is on a campaign to educate township communities about what blood donation entails and discourage superstitious beliefs about it.

She said SANBS is speaking to school children in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Gauteng and to church groups in Soweto.

"The communities were concerned that black people's blood is thrown away," she said.

"In the past the blood was thrown out because white people, who used to run the service, said it was from a high-risk group."

She said the blood is no longer rejected but is screened and tested, as is the blood from all other races.

Last week Sowetan reported that the number of blacks donating blood had increased from 18203 last October to 24156 so far, a 32 percent increase - the highest in the history of blood donation by black South Africans.

But Mpuntsha said more black donors are needed because 80percent of the patients who need blood are black.

She said people of the same race have a closer DNA match, therefore it is preferable to give patients blood donated by people of their own race.