A 12-year-old girl with a blood disorder is backing a Midland campaign to recruit more blood and bone marrow donors from the African and African Caribbean community.
Thandeka Brown, aged 12, was born with sickle cell anaemia, a condition more common in people of African and Afro-Caribbean decent, where blood cells are rigid and sickle shaped which means they can't provide enough oxygen.
If left untreated it can lead to severe pain in joints and damaged organs.
Thandeka, from West Bromwich, has spent most of her life in and out of hospital having regular blood transfusions. Now her condition is controlled at home with diet and medication, but she still needs transfusions once or twice a year.
Her mother, Patricia Stewart, said without the generosity of blood donors her daughter would not be alive.
She said: "Blood transfusions have been a big part of my daughter's life. Without them she wouldn't be with us so blood donors have saved her life.
"We have got used to it, but her condition gets worse when it's cold. It was difficult when we found out she had it because she was my first child and I hadn't heard of the disease before.
"People are often afraid of giving blood but they have to put that fear aside and help because you never know when you might need a blood transfusion."
To raise awareness of blood donation among the ethnic community, the National Blood Service (NBS) has been running workshops this week with the Organisation for Sickle Cell Anaemia Research (OSCAR) in Sandwell.
Lyndsay Stewart, spokeswoman for the NBS, said: "Only one per cent of blood donors are of African or African- Caribbean descent, so it's really important to encourage more donors to come forward so that patients like Thandeka can receive the treatment they need.
" Thandeka is blood group B, which she shares with 20 per cent of African and African-Caribbean populations, yet with so few of them registered as donors, it can be more difficult to find a blood match."
The NBS said that of 1.6 million people in Britain who gave blood last year, only three per cent of these were from Asian, African and African-Caribbean communities.
The NBS has launched the Are You My Type? campaign to recruit more blood donors from ethnic minority groups. It is a key concern because some blood types are more common to people from ethnic backgrounds, such as group B. The campaign is supported by TV presenters Trevor Nelson and June Sarpong.