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Blood donations drop but amount of donors increases

The IBTS chairperson said it had not been an easy year for the service.

Image: Giving blood via Shutterstock

THE NUMBER OF blood donations dropped in Ireland last year – even though the number of donors rose.

In 2012, 104,765 donors attended the clinics (an increase of 1.98 per cent compared to 2011), and gave 141,350 donations – a decrease of 3.5 per cent on the previous year.

This reduction in donations was due to a higher deferral rate – 18.49 per cent – which the IBTS said “was primarily due to the strict application of the required blood haemoglobin levels between March and August 2012″.

In September of last year, the IBTS was given a derogation from the Irish Medicines Board from the required blood haemoglobin levels for a 12-month period, in order to maintain an adequate blood supply.

The number of loyal donors helped the IBTS to maintain blood levels, with an increase of 2.2 per cent in donors attending the clinics on one, two or three occasions.

Donations

The Chairperson of IBTS, Professor Anthony Staines said they had made big changes over the year, including centralising blood donation testing at the National Blood Centre.

The Chief Executive, Andrew Kelly, said that “little did we think that we would be headed into our sixth year of reducing resources and still no end in sight”.

Since 2008 the IBTS has reduced its cost base by 21 per cent and there has been a 10 per cent decrease in the number of staff employed.

The IBTS Medical and Scientific Director, Dr Ian Franklin, said that very few blood donations were found to be positive for conditions such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis viruses B and C, with no confirmed cases of transfusion-transmitted viruses reported.

Donors who have travelled recently to areas where the West Nile Virus occurs had been excluded from donation until this year. Their blood was screened this year and no positive results were found, but almost 2000 donations were taken that would not have been given had the ban remained in place.

The report shows that 2012 was “a challenging year in maintaining an adequate blood supply”, but thanks to generous donors, the needs of patients in hospitals were met.

There were 15,318 first time donors, an increase of 8.7 per cent on 2011 – and more than half (52.4 per cent) were in the 18 – 24 age group.

There were 48,662 male donors and 37,100 female donors in 2012.

Read: More blood donations needed to meet demand of ageing populations>

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