Hispanics make up more than 50 percent of the population in South Texas. Yet, only about a third of blood donors here are Hispanic.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is out to change that.

April Carnicel is having many new experiences on the UTSA campus. She hopes someday to be a nurse. For now, she s helping the health of others by donating blood. Her decision to donate is personal.

My mom, when I was born, she needed a blood transfusion, Carnicel explained. And I just really thought about it and I thought I should be able to help other people how they help me and my mom in our time of need.

As the population ages, blood centers across the country are trying to plant the seeds of awareness in young people, particularly on college campuses like UTSA. The theme of the campaign to get more Hispanics to roll up their sleeves is Donar Sangre es Donar Vida.

Donating blood is donating life, said Aleida Fuentes-Nichols, a community relations specialist with South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. Especially if you re Hispanic and you are an O blood type, you are in a position to save even more lives when you donate.

Only six percent of South Texas Hispanics who are eligible choose to donate. In some cases, myths persist like I ll gain weight if I donate or I ll become anemic. By taking the blood donation buses to campuses, the blood bank hopes to counter misconceptions with truth and the chance for young people to make a real difference.

College students are open to giving, Fuentes-Nichols noted. They want to get engaged in their community. And blood donation is an excellent way to do so. It only takes about an hour of your time. You get a free t-shirt and you learn how to help within your community.

In observance of Cesar Chavez Day late this month, five San Antonio college campuses are holding competitive blood drives over the next week.
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