December 7, 2004
Department of Health spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said that race will no longer be used to determine donated blood's risk level, adding, "The current risk-rating model needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency, and other scientific determinants should be identified and integrated into the model to determine risk more accurately" (Barnes, SAPA/News24.com, 12/3). But it was "not immediately clear" whether SANBS would continue to use race as a factor when profiling the safety of blood donations, SAPA/SABC News reports. "Until we get instructions from the minister of health and until they tell us what measures to take that we can ensure that everyone receives the safest blood possible, we will continue using the current methods," Diane de Koning, director of donor services for SANBS, said. The group will hold a board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the current risk-rating methods for blood safety, according to Mngadi (SAPA/SABC News, 12/6).
Mbeki's Blood Also Destroyed
As part of the policy, SANBS also "routinely" incinerated blood that had been donated by South African President Thabo Mbeki because of his race, the SAPA/News24.com report. Mbeki, along with other South African public figures, has donated blood in the past to promote awareness drives for blood transfusions (SAPA/News24.com, 12/3). Ravi Reddy, SANBS director of technical services, said when Mbeki donated blood, the agency "had to take a decision whether to abort bleeding the president, which would have been a disaster from a publicity point of view, or whether to draw blood and then dispose of it." Mbeki spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said that the president "did not want to be involved in a public discussion on the matter," Reuters/lexpress.mu reports (Reuters/lexpress.mu, 12/5).
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