Blood supplies set to dip during holidays

70,000 people receive blood every year in Ireland, yet just 3% of the eligible population are regular blood donors. Maureen Gill-Emerson of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) issues an appeal ahead of the festive period
Blood supplies set to dip during holidays
"Donating blood has a massive impact on thousands of people across Ireland each week."

ONE in four of us will require a blood transfusion at some point in our lives. So, most likely, either you, someone in your family or close to you will need lifesaving blood; and when that happens, the IBTS will be there to ensure they get it.

Blood donation isn’t something that everyone thinks about, yet every year in Ireland about 70,000 patients receive blood.

To meet this demand and maintain the country’s blood supply, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service must collect 3,000 blood donations every week across the country, a high target to reach when only 3% of the eligible population are regular blood donors.

Each blood donation can save up to three lives so every donor truly is a lifesaver. One simple act of giving blood means that 3 patients are able to fight life threatening illnesses or complications during childbirth. Blood is essential for many hospital patients’ treatments, from heart surgery to hip operations, during childbirth to fighting cancer, for older people to mothers and their babies. Blood is necessary; there is no substitute.

Donating blood has a massive impact on thousands of people across Ireland each week. 1 in 4 of us will need a transfusion so whether we know it or not, we are all directly affected by the need for blood. Transfusions allow loved ones to spend precious extra time together and giving blood is an easy way for a regular person to become someone’s hero.

What to expect when I


Whether you’re a regular donor or a first timer, all donors are treated in the best, safest manner. Of course there might be hesitation for those attending a clinic for the first time, but you’ll be in good hands throughout the process.

It is important that all donors are well and healthy when they come to a clinic- an illness, injury, or even travel abroad might mean that you are not eligible to donate blood that day. There’s a quick quiz on to test if you are able to donate.

To reduce any adverse affects after donating, donors are asked to come well fed and hydrated.

At the clinic, you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire to ensure you’re eligible to donate. These are reviewed in confidence with a nurse who can also answer any of your queries. Donors will also have their haemoglobin tested by a pin prick test from their fingertip. Donors are then brought to the bed area for the donation process. A needle is inserted into the forearm vein and 470ml of blood is collected in a blood pack. Donors are closely monitored during this time.

Once the blood is collected, donors are brought to a canteen area for refreshments and staff members ensure donors are feeling fine after their donation. Donors are advised to rest and usually can return to their daily routine and shouldn’t expect any complications. When their blood is sent to a hospital, donors are informed that their blood donation is now being used to help save a patient — a great reminder of why they gave blood in the first place! Whole blood donors can return to a clinic every 90 days.

This Christmas:

IBTS Director of Operations, Paul McKinney, states: “We’re encouraging new and regular donors to come out to a clinic in the next few weeks as the blood supply often dips during the holiday season.

“We need all blood types and especially need donors with O negative blood, which is the Universal blood type, to attend.”

The IBTS aim at maintaining seven days stock levels of each blood type. Because of the holidays, the blood supply can drop well below this number.

Extra clinics will be scheduled around Cork city and surroundings to help boost the supply.

Upcoming clinics over the holidays include Carrigaline, Mitchelstown, Bandon, Fermoy, Glanmire, Togher and Macroom.

Clinics are also held weekly Monday to Thursday in St. Finbarr’s Hospital.

More details can be found on or by ringing 021 480 7400.

One parent expresses her thanks to blood donors stating, “My son is four years old and undergoing treatment for Leukaemia. Blood transfusions are a routine part of his treatment.

“We are eternally grateful to the donors who literally help save the lives of children in Ireland fighting cancer.”

This winter, give a gift that can change a life. Give blood.

Maureen Gill-Emerson is the IBTS Donor Services Manager.

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