Urgent appeal launched for blood donations as supplies "extremely low" 1 month ago

Urgent appeal launched for blood donations as supplies "extremely low"

Hospitals have been asked to use blood "conservatively" as the national supply is at three days.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has launched an "urgent appeal" for donors to make appointments to give blood, describing current blood supplies as "extremely low".

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Responsible for the national blood supply, the statutory body has said national blood stocks as of Tuesday morning (26 October) stand at three days across the main blood groups.

According to the IBTS, Bank Holiday weekends are always difficult as its capacity to collect blood is reduced, while the increased incidence of Covid-19 in the community, along with seasonal illness, is also having an adverse effect on donor attendance.

On top of this, there was an increased demand for blood over the summer which has sustained into autumn, impacting stock levels of all blood groups.

The IBTS last week issued a "pre-amber alert letter" to all hospitals advising them of the current situation and asking them to use blood "conservatively".

If the service has to issue an "amber alert letter", it would have an immediate implication for hospitals and for elective surgical procedures requiring blood support.

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"To mitigate against this we are asking people to help us support the health service in its efforts to keep normal hospital services running," IBTS operations director Barry Doyle said.

The IBTS has been running appointment-only clinics since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and says it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

As such, 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," Doyle said.

"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."

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Meanwhile, those interested in becoming donors can register their interest on www.giveblood.ie and the IBTS will make contact with them when a donation clinic is scheduled at a location near to them.

The IBTS notes that blood shortages are not unique to Ireland, with many blood services in other countries also experiencing shortages during the pandemic.