Derry giving ‘the gift of life’

Blood donation.
Blood donation.

Derry donates more blood than Belfast per head of population and is consistently delivers one of the best responses to appeals, the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service has said.

Paul McElkerney from NIBTS has said however that more will always be needed, given a 36% drop off in donations over the last 10 years.

Mr McElkerney urged those who can to join the register for blood donors to get reminders about when clinics are staged in Derry.

He said it was fantastic that St Mary’s College in Derry has become a regular donation centre along the with Guildhall in the city centre.

“Generally speaking in terms of donation, Derry and Strabane and Newry would be extremely good. It seems that border towns and counties do very well. It may be down to community spirit.”

Mr McElkerney said that this was buoyed by more people here being part of clubs such as rugby, GAA, football, and groups in drama, poetry and community activities.

“We are more able to tap into that,” he said.

“St Mary’s College have very kindly invited us in and it is a super facility, and donors seem to like it.

“We would encourage people to keep an eye on the website to see where the clinics are in Derry and this week there is a major enrolment initiative going on not just here but across the world.”

This new push is because globally, like the local picture, blood donation has dipped significantly.

Mr McElkerney said that this was likely down to different life-styles. “More and more people are going to exotic travel destinations, and that would mean they exclude themselves for up to a year, largely due to the risk of malaria. Also the large number of people getting tattoos done in Northern Ireland. has become a factor.”

A total of 500 people are transfused in Northern Ireland every week, Mr McElkerney said. “If someone gives blood within three to four days somebody will have that blood,” he said.

While most people would associate blood use with accidents and traumas, 40% of donated blood goes to cancer patients, while 1,000 new mothers every year need it.

“It really is the gift of life,” Mr McElkerny said.

To enrol for blood donation text 60081, phone 0500534666 or log onto www.nibts.org.

North West Regional College in Derry will host donation on August 24 and 25, followed by Clooney Hall Waterside on August 26.