Hundreds answer blood donation plea

Hundreds of blood donors flocked to special donation centres around Ireland today to boost stocks after hospitals were forced to cancel operations.

Hundreds of blood donors flocked to special donation centres around Ireland today to boost stocks after hospitals were forced to cancel operations.

Clinics were opened for several hours in Dublin city centre, Dundalk, Co Louth and Athlone in the Midlands.

A spokeswoman for the D’Olier St centre in the capital, which opened its doors for more than five hours today, said more than 200 people attended the clinic.

She said a total of 166 donors were allowed to give blood. Similar figures were recorded at clinics in Athlone and Dundalk following an appeal by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

Non-emergency surgery at hospitals around the country were cancelled for a number of days after stocks dropped below the minimum level of 3,000 units for one week.

Kieran Healy, IBTS donor services manager, had called on donors and those who had never given blood in the past to make the effort to boost stocks.

He said in the first five months of the year around 3,500 fewer donors had been able to donate blood at clinics.

Mr Healy added it was the first major crisis in blood stocks to hit Ireland since January 2002 when surgeries were cancelled nationwide.

The IBTS is to release 500 red balloons in Dublin city centre tomorrow – the eve of World Blood Donor Day – highlighting the number of donations needed to maintain stocks.

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.

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