Cork-based army man: I'm determined to reach my 50th blood donation...

Blood supplies can dip in summer - AISLING MEATH tells us why it’s vital that we keep a safe and sustainable flow, as she talks to a number of regular donors and the National Donor Service manager
Cork-based army man: I'm determined to reach my 50th blood donation...

A recent IBTS drive with the Cork Defence Forces at Collins Barracks for platelets.

INCREDIBLY, one in four people will need a blood transfusion at some stage in their lives, and if they don’t personally need to receive one, then a member of their family or close circle will.

Therefore, it is of vital importance for the welfare of everyone in our society to ensure that there is always a good supply of blood available for our hospitals.

This is enabled by the incredible generosity and goodwill of regular blood donors who are the silent heroes of our society. Each donation that is given can save up to three lives.

Despite the incredible advancements in science, there is still no substitute for the real thing. If a transfusion is necessary, then human blood is a key factor in ensuring that a precious life is saved, with 67% of blood donated used to treat cancer patients and people with blood disorders, 27% of blood donated used in surgery and emergency situations, and 6% to treat blood loss after childbirth and to help premature babies.

The shelf life of blood is only 35 days, and the shelf life for blood used for neonatal babies is a mere seven days, so it is of utmost importance to ensure that there is an adequate supply available for these precious little ones through their vital early weeks of life.

A recent IBTS drive with the Cork Defence Forces at Collins Barracks for platelets.
A recent IBTS drive with the Cork Defence Forces at Collins Barracks for platelets.

Captain Diarmuid Barry, who lives in Ballincollig, is 39 and has served in the Defence Forces for 14 years. He has made 25 donations. His blood type is O negative which makes him a universal donor.

On a number of occasions, he has received phone calls to see if he was able to make an emergency donation for neo-natal babies. He was delighted to help the community in this way, all the more so given that he himself is a father to young children.

Diarmuid is part of a wide blood-donating volunteer group within the Defence Forces, both at Collins Barracks in Cork, and as part of the wider brigade formation across the Munster area.

Cork-based Army Press Officer Comdt. Tim Egar also regularly gives blood. 

“I have made 42 blood donations to date, and will continue to do so, as I am determined to reach the 50 mark as soon as I can. Within the Defence Forces, we all manage to donate on an ongoing basis.”

The Irish Blood Transfusion service faces the constant challenge of fluctuating demands, so it is vitally important that donors keep coming forward with their sleeves rolled up, and fortified by the knowledge that they are saving lives.

John Fitzgibbons with CNM 2 Susan Falvey.
John Fitzgibbons with CNM 2 Susan Falvey.

“ It’s not painful at all,” says John Fitzgibbon Director of the Cork Education and Training board at Lavitt’s Quay, who for the past 25 years has been regularly giving blood at the permanent unit in St Finbarr’s hospital.

“I just stroll across to the clinic after work and I find the staff there outstanding. They make you feel totally at ease, the whole process is very simple and straightforward.

“I must have given around 40 donations at this stage, and there really is a feelgood factor about being a blood donor, doing a small thing like that in order to save lives.

“As I am a regular donor, I have gotten to know the staff at the clinic, they put you completely at your ease, it’s quite a sociable atmosphere, we have great chats.”

St Finbarr’s is a fixed blood donation clinic, and is open from Monday through to Thursday, and they take appointments on 1800 731 137.

There are also mobile clinics around the city and county. Anyone wishing to donate can register their interest and will be contacted by a member of the Blood Donor Services team, who will advise on where there are upcoming clinics and answer any queries. The clinic finder and registration can all be done on giveblood.ie.

There are 3,000 units of blood needed each week and 70,000 people are transfused yearly in Ireland.

The compassionate act of giving blood is one of the most beautiful gifts anyone can give, coupled with the certain knowledge that donors are literally saving lives, which makes it a very special act of volunteering indeed.

Blood group O positive is the most common group in Ireland, and AB negative is the least common. O negative is the Universal Blood Type and can be given to any blood group. However you do not need to know your blood type before attending a donation clinic, as it will be checked by the staff.

One in four people will need a blood transfusion at some stage in their life. Picture: Stock
One in four people will need a blood transfusion at some stage in their life. Picture: Stock

“ You can give blood every three months,” explained Stephen Cousins, National Donor Services manager. The most important thing before donating is that people are feeling well before they attend.

“If you want to know whether you are eligible for donation, you can check your eligibility beforehand on our website at giveblood.ie where we have a Blood Eligibility Quiz, so check the ‘Can I Give Blood’ section. Before donating, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids, as well as eating something substantial at least three hours before attending the clinic. Although a donation only takes approximately eight minutes, it’s also important to allow 60-90 minutes for the entire process, from the time you register to resting afterwards, while enjoying some refreshments which will be provided at the clinic.” he said.

See Locall: 1800 731 137 or giveblood.ie

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