Blood donors claim they suffered long-term nerve damage

Instances of donors successfully suing Irish Blood Transfusion Service very rare

The chance of a blood donor having to be admitted to hospital overnight is  given as one in 26,113.

The chance of a blood donor having to be admitted to hospital overnight is given as one in 26,113.

 

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is being sued by four donors who allege they were injured when giving blood.

The donors, who have donated blood over the past three years, have begun legal action against the IBTS, a spokeswoman confirmed to The Irish Times. She said the claims were now being handled by the State Claims Agency.

The service records all complications of donations that occur in donor clinics as well as any complications that occur afterwards

In some of the cases, donors are alleging they suffered long-term nerve damage as a result of donating blood.

Instances of blood donors successfully suing over alleged harm are exceedingly rare; in 2000, a woman who claimed she was in constant pain after a needle hit a nerve during blood donation settled her High Court claim against the IBTS out of court.

The service records all complications of donations that occur in donor clinics as well as any complications that occur afterwards and these are followed up by a staff member, according to the spokeswoman.

Medical intervention

While the service pays for donors to see a GP where this is requested, “the majority of complications are minor and resolve completely without the need of medical intervention”, she says.

Where a donor has persistent pain or an abnormal sensation in the arm, this may indicate a nerve has been damaged. In such cases, the IBTS pays for the donor to see a neurologist and for diagnostic studies such as nerve conduction tests.

“If a donor is certified as being off work by his or her GP because of a complication of blood donation and has a resultant loss of earnings we will pay the donor the deficit following receipt of the appropriate documentation.” The spokeswoman said this typically happens one or twice a year.

The service pays expenses incurred as a result of a complication of blood donation, such as GP fees and prescription fees, but does not pay compensation to donors.

Fainting, bruising and pain

The rates of complications associated with blood donation (attempted donations where a needle was inserted in a donor’s arm regardless of the volume of blood collected) in 2018 are as follows: in that year, it was calculated that one in 80 donors felt faint after giving blood, without any loss of consciousness. One in 229 donors suffered bruising in the arm, and one in 656 had pain in the arm.

One in every 721 donors fainted, with loss of consciousness. The chance of a donor having to be admitted to hospital overnight was given as one in 26,113, while one donor in 32,642 experienced pain that lasted longer than one year.

The IBTS collected 129,589 blood donations from 79,628 individual donors in 2018, down slightly on 2017.

Some 10,784 people donated at least three times in the year, 1,775 gave four times and 19 donated on five or more occasions.