The director of operations for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, Paul McKinney, has appealed for new donors, of all blood types as the service is now at “pre Amber” stage.
There are supplies for three days he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland. It would be better to have supplies for seven days, he explained.
“We’re looking for an additional 2000 donations over the next five weeks. That’s an additional 400 donations on our normal 3000 donations that we try to collect every week. So a big challenge. It’s something the donors are well up for. But as I said, with the bank holiday coming up, we are very concerned.
“The number of new donors over the last number of years has dropped. We currently have an active donor base of around 85,000. Pre-Covid, we were getting around 17,500 to 18,000 new donors. We’ve dropped significantly and we’re about half that at the moment.
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“So we have work to do to try and encourage new donors to come back and refresh the panel. Also, hospital demand is very high. For the first quarter of this year, we issued more red cells and platelets than we have for the last ten years. So demand is high from the hospitals. We really need the support of donors, it’s really a supply and demand challenge.
“When we get to three days supply, we issue a pre-Amber warning to the hospitals, which is to inform them that our stocks are short. We are taking action to try and correct that. And we ask them to reduce their stockholding where we can, and we work with them in terms of the units that we issue to them.
“And hence we take actions such as asking or launching a national appeal to avoid going to the next step, which is an Amber Alert.
“We’ve never had to do it in Ireland before. An Amber Alert is a situation where hospitals are asked to consider what elective surgeries actually manage not to do or postpone until we get the stock levels back to where they need to be.”