Blood donations down by 4%


Blood donations fell by 4 per cent last year, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service said in its annual report.

However, no shortages of blood supply impacted on patient care, medical director Dr Ian Franklin said.

The reduction reflected the service’s efforts to improve stock management, maximise the use of donations and reduce costs, chief executive Andrew Kelly said.

Almost 150,000 units of blood were given by almost 88,000 donors , the report shows.

New initiatives to manage platelet use, which has been relatively high in Ireland, may also have played a part, Dr Franklin said.

There were no reports of any transfusion associated virus infections “a key result in the permanent drive to the safest possible blood supply” he said

The largest cohort of donors was in the 25-31 age group (17 per cent of donors) , followed by the 46-52 age group (16.8 per cent of donors).

The blood group O+ made up more than two fifths of donors followed by A+ at one fifth. Just an eighth of donors were the sought-after universal type O negative, which is much rarer.

The service appealed for more donation of O positive and O negative blood as it currently has just four days supply.

On stem cells, the report noted that 41 Irish patients received them from an unrelated donor, with 8 donations from Ireland, 26 from the rest of Europe and 7 from outside the EU. Three stem cell donations and one lymphocyte donation were collected in Ireland and used overseas.

The service last year finished tracing 99 per cent of people who may have been infected with hepatitis C between 1977 and 1994 from then Blood Transfusion Service Board’s contaminated Anti-D Product.

Of the 98 per cent of people tested (14,724) in five continents, 7 per cent were Elisa positive (1,089) of whom 503 had continued hepatitis C infections, the report said.

The service has not yet found an affordable system to screen for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in blood, Mr Kelly said.

Last year, HIQA advised and the Minister for Health decided it would not be cost effective to introduce new technology of prion filters to “reduce the risk” of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease by blood transfusion. The service was in discussion with the Department of Health as to the best way to minimise what is “already a very low risk”, it said.

The financial report shows income of €108.2 million in 2011 compared with €110.7 million in 2010.

The Department of Health decided that the service should no longer manage the products of haemophilia patients. “This was an integral part of our funding model and certainly will require savings to be made to make good the income lost from these products,” Mr Kelly said.

There was a €12.2 million loss entered in the company accounts from the pension scheme last year. The pension issue “remained unresolved” in 2011 and was impacting on staff across the organisation, Mr Kelly said.

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