Special blood donor clinics have been set up around Ireland after a shortage forced a number of hospitals to cancel operations, it was confirmed today.
With a 9% drop in donations and elective surgery being stopped the Irish Blood Transfusion Service will open centres in Dublin, Athlone and Dundalk on Sunday to boost stocks.
Kieran Healy, IBTS donor services manager, called on donors to make the effort to help ease the crisis and ensure surgeons can return to operating theatres.
“We are expecting that the yield from Thursday evening’s clinics and Friday’s have been very good. We are happy with the response and are expecting that the yield on Sunday will be good,” he said.
But he called on people who had not given blood before to consider doing so.
“We obviously need new donors continually because people are always being refused or rejected,” he said.
“There is a need for new blood – if you’ll forgive the pun.”
Mr Healy said in the first five months of the year around 3,500 fewer donors had been able to donate blood at clinics.
And he said it was the first major crisis in blood stocks to hit Ireland since January 2002 when surgeries were cancelled nationwide.
New restrictions were imposed on donors last year over fears of blood being infected with vCJD.
Health regulations barred anyone who had been living in the United Kingdom for 12 months or more between 1980 and 1996 from giving blood.
Contaminated beef was blamed for the majority of cases of the debilitating brain disease in the UK, but transfusion experts believe vCJD could be transmitted through blood or blood products.
Mr Healy insisted donating blood had to be a constant commitment to prevent a repeat of the shortages.
“We need to emphasise more strongly the need for regular supply. There is a constant need for blood 365 days a year, we need 3,000 units a week,” he said.
IBTS centres will be open tomorrow in D’Olier Street, Dublin from 11am to 4pm, Dundalk GAA centre from 11.30am to 3.30pm and in the Prince of Wales Hotel, Athlone from 12pm to 4pm.