The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service say that a blood donation session held in memory of Mark McAlister will save hundreds of lives.
Paul McElkerney from the NIBTS said they were overwhelmed by the huge response to the session which was held in St Cecilia’s College on Friday.
114 people attended, 61 people gave blood and 67 new donors were enrolled. However the response to Friday’s session was so great that not everyone who came was able to donate.
“We are absolutely delighted with the response,” said Mr McElkerney. “We are sorry that we could not accommodate everyone. “
Friday’s session was organised in memory of Derry man Mark McAlister who passed away last year.
After his death his family and local priest Father Brendan Collins decided to run a blood donation bank in his memory.
Mr. McElkerney commended the family of Mark McAlister for their huge effort in encouraging as many people as possible to come out on Friday.
“We are delighted with the family’s help,” he said. “Especially given such sad circumstances.
“We are delighted with the response on Friday and long term it could really make a difference. If those who gave blood come back and give a second and third time, we could be looking at hundreds of lives being saved.”
Mark’s father JP McAlister thanked the many people who came to give blood. “The response was huge,” he said. “We were so glad to see so many people, particularly the new faces, because there were so many people who came who had never given blood before. We weren’t expecting such a huge crowd and we’re hoping that anyone who didn’t get to give will come back, and those who donated for the first time keep coming back.”
He said the blood transfusion service is something that will touch everyone at some point.
“It’s not just for people with cancer, it’s vital for operations. There’s such a shortage of blood.”
The family and Paul McElkerney say they hope that anyone who didn’t get to give blood will attend sessions taking place in the Guildhall on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
The sessions will take place from 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. and 5.15 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can also go online at http://www.nibts.org/ and register.