Blood consignment imported from England due to shortages in health service

IBTS appeals to public to donate blood in run-up to Christmas and new year

A consignment of donor blood has been imported from England to address a current shortage in the health service, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has said.

The consignment of 390 units of O negative, A negative and B negative red-cell concentrates was imported early on Thursday morning, according to the service.

The import was made necessary by a shortage of rare blood units, with just a few days of O negative blood in the bank, Barry Doyle, IBTS director of production and hospital services, said.

“Maintaining RhD negative blood groups has become difficult and with just two days of O negative blood in the bank, we have activated our contingency to address the immediate shortfall in supply of these blood groups.”


RhD negative donors are a small proportion of the overall donor population, but patient demand for this blood is significantly higher.

Mr Doyle described the support from RhD donors as superb in recent weeks, but supplies have been affected by increased levels of illness that has led to more appointment “no-shows” and cancellations.

“Also, over the last number of weeks we have been issuing more RhD negative blood to hospitals than we have been able to collect so the IBTS has made the decision to import from the UK to ensure continuity of supply for those groups of patients who need that blood support.”

Mr Doyle appealed to the public to donate blood this month to maintain supplies over the Christmas and new year. “Blood lasts just 35 days, so to ensure continuity of supply over the festive period, we need donors to attend donation clinics right up to Christmas and into the new year.”

A spokesperson for NHS Blood Transfusion in England said it had at least six days’ stocks of O, A and B negative blood and expected supplies to remain at “healthy and robust” levels over the coming weeks.

“For this reason we are in a position to help the IBTS with its current stocks challenges and have provided the 390 units requested this week – this represents a tiny proportion of our stock holdings, around 0.1 days.”

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times