Why should I give blood?
Anyone who undergoes serious surgery needs a blood transfusion to replace what they lose during their operation. Many critically ill people with long-term conditions like haemophilia or leukaemia require blood or blood products, such as platelets, on a regular basis to keep them alive and improve their quality of life. All this blood has to be donated by someone, and the job of collecting blood and blood products for these Irish patients belongs to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).
Some hospitals are now offering the option of allowing people to donate in advance if they are undergoing a procedure. This is known as autologous blood donation. If you are going for planned surgery, you should ask your hospital doctor about this option.
The IBTS are charged with finding enough blood and blood products for all the people in Ireland who need them. To do this, they organise blood donation centres all around the country, and have a number of mobile blood donation vehicles that travel to workplaces and public spaces to collect blood from the general public.
Giving blood is literally giving someone else the chance of life. You or your loved ones may one day be in the unfortunate position of needing a blood transfusion. Other people require blood to live now, and they are depending on the 30% of Irish population who are currently giving blood.
There is always a need for people to give blood and though the IBTS manage the supply of the blood very well, supplies can sometimes run low. The vast majority of Irish Adults are physically able to give blood, and donating can now be done very quickly, conveniently and with minimum of discomfort.
How can I give blood?
The IBTS organise regular blood donation sessions all over the country. In Dublin, you can attend the IBTS clinic in D’Olier Street or Stillorgan, 6 Dublin Road.
In Cork, you can donate at St. Finbarrs hospital on the Douglas road.
For opening times for these and mobile clinics nationwide visit www.giveblood.ie or call 1850 731 137.
What happens when I give blood?
You should have a meal an hour or two before giving blood, make sure you are well hydrated with cold drinks. Don’t give blood on an empty stomach. When you arrive to give blood you will be greeted and asked to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire. Some people are not suitable as blood donors. These include:
•people with colds, flu’s and infections
•people taking certain drugs and medication
•people who have recently visited certain foreign countries
•people at risk of having HIV or other blood diseases
•people who have injected drugs
•women who have worked as prostitutes
•people who have lived in the UK for a year or more between the years 1980 and 1996
A nurse will prick your finger and test the small blood sample for haemoglobin to ensure that you are not anaemic. If your levels are fine, you will be able to give blood. You are asked to donate around 470ml, which is less than a pint. The average person has between eight and twelve pints in their body, and the body replaces the donated plasma (blood volume) within a day.
Is it safe to give blood?
The needles and materials used to extract your blood are brand new, totally sterile and can only be used once. You cannot contract any disease or virus by giving blood. It is also relatively painless. Drop into your local blood donation clinic and give the gift of life.
While giving blood takes about 10 minutes, you should allow 1-1 _ hours for the full procedure. You will be eligible to give blood again in 90 days. You will receive a letter to remind you and if you wish you can receive a text message also.
Remember you could be the reason someone goes home healthy to their family and all you give is blood. You get more than you give.
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