Appeal for 1,500 blood donations as stocks drop 21%

Irish Blood Transfusion Service says decline in young donors is a particular worry

Shane Bradshaw (32), a financial analyst with Symantec, has been a regular blood donor since his early 20s.

Shane Bradshaw (32), a financial analyst with Symantec, has been a regular blood donor since his early 20s.

 

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has appealed for 1,500 additional donations to steady blood stocks eroded by a recent fall in donors.

While there is no immediate threat of blood shortages at hospitals, the service yesterday warned the wider issue of declining donor numbers and increasing donor age remains.

In the past decade, the number of donors fell 21 per cent, while the average age of donors rose from 38 to 41.

The decline in young donors is a particular worry for Paul McKinney, director of operations at IBTS.

As a unit of blood lasts just 35 days, he said a regular flow of donors is vital in the coming years.

“They are the future,” said Mr McKinney. “We need younger people to consider coming regularly as donors. Every donation does save a life, and you try to get them to appreciate this.”

Currently, only three per cent of those eligible to donate blood are active donors, despite the fact that one in four people will require a transfusion at some point in their life.

“It’s an incredible feeling to see the gift you are giving people and I wish the younger people could see this,” Mr McKinney added.

He said the service is having difficulty in getting its message across to younger generations in the social media age. “We are up against so many other activities that we are competing for young people’s attention.”

Habits

In addition, the increasing popularity of tattoos and the burgeoning interest in backpacking trips to exotic locations mean young adults often face deferral periods before they can donate.

“It’s difficult once you defer someone to get them back,” according to Mr McKinney, as many become discouraged from returning.

The move of many businesses from urban to suburban industrial estates has also affected the number of young donors.

This was a factor for Shane Bradshaw (32), a financial analyst who donated blood at the IBTS clinic on D’Olier Street in Dublin city, with colleagues from Symantec, yesterday.

Mr Bradshaw, who has donated blood since his early 20s, said he donated more often before his firm moved from Dublin city centre to the suburbs a few years ago.

But he is keen to start donating more regularly and has called on younger people to give blood.

“In the future, you might need blood. If you need it and you want it to be there, and people don’t go and donate, then you could end up having the issue where there’s nothing for you.”

The IBTS will hold clinics on Sunday in Wexford town, Celbridge, Co Kildare and Mountbellew, Co Galway in a bid to increase donations. More details can be found at giveblood.ie.