Irish international team manager Brian Kerr yesterday launched Blood for Life Week, joined by newscaster Sharon Ní Bheoláin and two-year-old Eoghan O’Sullivan from Carlow.
The campaign aims to increase public awareness about the importance of donating blood regularly, according to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.
The service’s donor manager Kieran Healy said there has been a 7% rise in demand for blood from hospitals so far this year, reflecting a rise in the number of elective and emergency surgeries.
The board is managing to meet its target of 3,000 units every week but needs people to donate regularly. Year-on-year to the end of 2002, donations increased by 8.2% but only a small proportion of possible donors, 3%, gave blood. There is a huge number of people between the ages of 18 and 70 who can give blood.
Awareness campaigns have been organised in schools and universities to encourage younger people to start becoming regular donors in early adulthood.
Mr Healy said one in four people will need a blood transfusion at some point. “It’s about getting people to realise that is part of their civic duty,” he said.