Shortages force transfusion service to import 390 units of blood from England

Shortages force transfusion service to import 390 units of blood from England

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service imported 390 units of O-, A- and B- red cell concentrates early on Thursday morning.

The blood transfusion service has imported blood from England to fill shortages with just two days' supply of one blood type remaining amid rising demand from hospitals.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has called on the public to donate blood especially as some donors had to cancel appointments due to rising winter illnesses. All of this is putting increased pressure on supply. They imported 390 units of O-, A- and B- red cell concentrates early on Thursday morning.

Director of Production and Hospital Services Barry Doyle said this was done through a contingency arrangement with the NHSBT (NHS Blood and Transplant) in England.

“Maintaining RhD negative blood groups has become difficult and with just two days of O- blood in the bank, we have activated our contingency to address the immediate shortfall in supply of these blood groups,” he said.

People who can donate RhD negative are a small proportion of the donor population, but the demand for this blood is “significantly higher,” he explained.

“Over the last number of weeks, we have been issuing more RhD negative blood to hospitals than we have been able to collect,” he said.

He warned also about the impact of winter illnesses on donation levels while praising the donors for their help.

“In recent weeks, an increased amount of illness circulating in the community has contributed to a high incidence of appointment ‘no shows’ and cancellations,” he said.

Just 3% of the population donate blood typically, and about 8% of these donors are O-. “However, as this blood can be transfused to patients of all groups, issues of this blood group to hospitals frequently hits 15% thus requiring more frequent calls on donors of this group,” the IBTS said.

They need to collect 3,000 units of blood every week to maintain the national blood supply. The service has appealed to the public for donations over the Christmas and New Year period, saying donated blood lasts just 35 days.

The IBTS continues to adhere to public health guidelines to ensure the safety of its donors. A spokesperson for the NHSBT said blood stocks of O-, A- and B- in England are at healthy and robust levels.

“We are in a position to help the Irish Blood Transfusion Service with its current stocks challenges and have provided the 390 units requested this week,” he said. “This represents a tiny proportion of our stock holdings, around 0.1 days.”

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