Hospitals have been asked to use blood “conservatively” after an alert has been issued over blood shortages.
The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has asked for donors to “urgently” step forward to cover shortages caused by a 5% increase in demand above pre-pandemic levels.
Despite strong blood collections over the summer, the IBTS has said there is a shortage in blood types O-, A-, B-, and A+ relative to the surge seen in hospitals recently.
The IBTS has had to import blood from overseas this year to prevent going into an amber alert amid a worldwide surge in demand for blood.
IBTS operations director Paul McKinney said it has been a “very challenging” year for the service. He called on healthy members of the public to contact the IBTS to make a blood donation appointment and said additional clinics have been organised for Sunday, October 9, to cater for additional donations.
Mr McKinney said part of the reason for the shortage is that hospitals are “catching up” on procedures that were previously postponed when Covid-19 clogged up the health system.
The pre-amber alert is the first stage to be issued, which asks hospitals to “conservatively” use blood in specific blood types. Hospitals usually stock up to four days’ worth of blood, and if these stocks are not replenished an amber alert will be issued which “would start to get quite troublesome”.
The IBTS is issuing up to 2,500 units of blood per week to hospitals, compared to an average of 2,100.
“I know it doesn’t sound like an awful lot but a couple hundred units over time can make a huge difference,” he said.
“If we don’t get more donations for those particular blood groups, we could very quickly find ourselves in an amber alert,” he said, and added that he has never issued an alert in his time at the IBTS.