Blood transfusion service to accept walk-in donors in all clinics as part of ‘critical appeal’ to increase supplies

Additional 5,000 donations sought over next eight weeks following decline in units collected

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) will accept walk-in donors in all of its clinics for a week as part of a “critical appeal” to increase blood supplies.

All donation clinics throughout the country will accept walk-ins including at Stillorgan in Dublin and St Finbarr’s in Cork. The clinics will operate on a dual basis of appointment and walk-in donors. The target is to get an additional 5,000 donations over the next eight weeks to significantly increase blood supply levels, the IBTS said in a statement.

IBTS operations director Paul McKinney said the service had issued more blood than it had collected since the start of June, as hospital demand remained strong.

“This is a necessary step to bolster supply . . . The decline in units collected is most likely due to more donors travelling and Covid-19 levels increasing across the country again,” he said.

“We are asking regular donors who are texted this week to please attend their nearest walk-in clinic and new donors should register their interest on giveblood.ie, so the IBTS can contact them about attending a future clinic, when we are next at a location near them. For scheduled clinics after this week, we are urging donors to book an appointment as usual and in particular to consider giving blood if they are eligible before they go on holiday.”

A “pre-amber alert letter” was issued to all hospitals on June 20th, restricting issues to emergency orders and patient specific requests only for the O positive, O negative, A positive, A negative and B negative groups.

Hospitals have also been asked to reduce their stock holding of red cells to a maximum of three days to enable the IBTS to manage the limited blood supply available.

“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,” Mr McKinney explained.

Blood services in other countries are also experiencing difficulties at the moment, he said.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times