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Appeal for blood donations as hospitals warned services down to a three-day supply

The supply has dwindled due to demand over the summer months, Covid, and seasonal illnesses.

Image: Shutterstock/Suliman Razvan

THE IRISH BLOOD Transfusion Service has warned hospitals that it is down to a three-day supply of blood, and asked members of the public to come forward to donate if they are eligible.

A combination of increased demand over the summer months and a decrease in donations because of Covid-19 has hit supplies across all blood groups, the service said.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is calling on donors to make appointments to give blood over the coming weeks.

“Blood stocks this morning stand at three days across the main blood groups,” said Operations Director Barry Doyle said.

“Bank Holiday weekends are always difficult as our capacity to collect blood is reduced, the increased incidence of Covid-19 in the community as well as seasonal illness is having an adverse effect on donor attendance.

“Therefore we are asking donors to help us support the health service by making an appointment to give blood when they receive a text from us.

“The increased demand experienced during the summer and sustained into autumn has had an impact on stock levels of all blood groups. Covid-19 continues to impact donor blood collections and our ability to maintain the blood supply has become increasingly difficult.”

Last week, ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, the IBTS issued a ‘pre-amber alert letter’ under the National Transfusion Advisory Group blood shortage plan to all hospitals advising them of the current situation and asking them to use blood conservatively.

If the IBTS has to issue an amber alert letter, which is the next escalation level of the blood shortage plan, it would have an immediate implication for hospitals and for elective surgical procedures, requiring blood support.

To mitigate against this we are asking people to help us support the health service in its efforts to keep normal hospital services running.

“Blood shortages are not unique to Ireland and many blood services in other countries are also experiencing shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Doyle said. 

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The IBTS has been running appointment only clinics since the start of the pandemic, to manage the flow and ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines.

This also means that it is not possible for the IBTS to make a traditional appeal for donors as they could not be safely accommodated on a ‘walk in’ basis.

“Donor appointments are done entirely on the phone with donors being pre-screened before an appointment is made for them to attend the donation clinic, to avoid unnecessary attendance. We are asking existing donors to ring us when they get a text from us about their local clinic and make an appointment to attend.

“New donors who are interested in becoming donors can register their interest on www.giveblood.ie and we will make contact when a donation clinic is scheduled at a location near to them.”

“We would also ask our donors to bear with us if we cannot get to answer every call when it is made and promise to get to back them as quickly as we can.”

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