Blood donors from across Ireland were welcomed by President Mary McAleese at a special reception in Dublin today.
More than 150 donors and recipients attended the Irish Blood Transfusion Service event at Áras an Uachtaráin, which was staged to mark World Blood Donor Day.
They were joined by clinicians and representatives of the Irish Cancer Society, the Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Kidney Association and the Northern Ireland Blood Service.
President McAleese thanked all those who worked in the field of blood transfusion.
“You carry a formidable burden of responsibility and accountability,” she said.
“This is a remarkable and much-needed, much-used public service with an uplifting story to tell of many thousands of men, women and children whose lives you helped to transform for the better.
“It is a service that has known other days too that brought deep heartache and sadness. You carry all those stories in the deepening reservoir of distilled experience.
“They set your agenda of uncompromising excellence, of relentless care and eternal vigilance. I wish you every success as you ally the very best of scholarship and science to the very best of human nature.”
IBTS chief executive Andrew Kelly said that much of modern medicine could not happen without the availability of a consistent blood supply.
“This can only be achieved through community involvement at many levels,” he said.
“These linkages are vital if patients in hospitals are to receive the blood they require when they need it. Giving blood is a truly altruistic act and blood donors feel good for having done it. Today’s event is an acknowledgement of that great act of giving and how it touches so many people’s lives.
“Blood Transfusion Services depend on cross community support to make that ’Gift of Life’ available for those in need.
“World Blood Donor Day is about recognising internationally that voluntary unremunerated donors are the cornerstone of a safe blood supply.
“Here, over the summer months, we are continually challenged to meet hospital demand as schools are closed and many people are on holidays or about to go on holidays, which is why we ask people to give blood before they go abroad.”