Irish Blood Transfusion Service to utilise blood dumped by hospitals

Huge amounts of blood being dumped by hospitals in the Mid-West will be harvested through a clinic opened by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, it emerged yesterday.

Patients with the potentially life-threatening condition haemochromatosis have to get blood taken regularly due to a buildup of iron.

University Hospital Limerick has been sending patients with the condition to Ennis and Nenagh General Hospitals for the past two years as it had no more capacity for taking blood from these people.

The IBTS confirmed yesterday that it plans to open a clinic for haemochromatosis sufferers in June and is in talks with the private Barringtons Hospital.

Dr Willie Murphy, scientific and medical director of the IBTS, said as well as taking pressure off University Hospital Limerick and the hospitals in Nenagh and Ennis, the new service will give them a whole new source of blood for transfusions.

Dr Murphy said: “At present the blood taken here in the Mid-West is dumped. But we will be able to take it for further use. We have to collect over 140,000 units of blood every year and we are always looking for new donors. The situation in Limerick and the Mid-West will give us lots of new donors. We would expect to cater for patients coming to the new Limerick clinic from Co Galway and Co Tipperary.”

The screening criteria regarding donor suitability is the same for people with haemochromatosis as the general population.

Dr Murphy said the new clinic would be funded from its own budget. Medical card holders with haemochromatosis will not be charged and insurance covers the service provided to people with the condition.

Ireland has the highest rate of haemochromatosis in the world, being particularly prevalent along the western seaboard. The amount of blood which need to be taken from a patient depends on the buildup of iron in the blood. Most people need to have about four pints (units) of blood taken each year.

Denise McAuliffe of the Mid-West Haemochromotosis Association said the opening of a new clinic in Limerick is a welcome step.

“For people who do not have medical cards or medical insurance it can be quite expensive.”


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