Over 350 students attended DCU’s blood donation clinic run by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, last week.
The clinic was open from the 29th of February to the 2nd of March and is the first DCU clinic of the year. The IBTS runs similar clinics in UCD, Maynooth and DIT.
Ashling O’Brien, the Donor Recruitment manager from the IBTS, stressed how crucial links with colleges are.
“Links with third level students are exceptionally important to get our message out and to recruit new donors”, O’Brien said.
She explained how students are more likely to spread the message of donating blood as they graduate and move into working new communities. This generates more donors and lengthens their donation panels.
The deferral rate for students is about 37%, this is for a number of different reasons related to the lifestyle of young people.
“Students travel a lot, they get piercings and tattoos too”, O’Brien said, “it’s right across the board for younger people”.
She explained how regular donors are less likely to be turned away and the percentage is so high as it includes a lot of first time donors. She encourages people to check their eligibility on giveblood.ie before attending a donating clinic.
“First time donors are not as prepared, knowledge is an advantage”, she said.
To donate blood, donors must be aged between 18 to 60 and weigh between 50kg and 130kg. Smokers can donate but should wait at least an hour after smoking a cigarette before donating. The IBTS does not accept blood from men who have had sex with other men. 1 in 4 people will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives.
In November 2015, the IBTS suspended some female donors,who had donated blood in the past 18 months, from donating blood. In July 2014 IBTS introduced a new non-invasive way of checking haemoglobin levels but this turned out to be not as effective in showing some donors low levels.
“It will affect donation levels for the next 6 months as more people are being deferred”, O’Brien said. The deferral times vary depending on the individual donors haemoglobin levels, but could be between 3 or 6 months.