GiveBlood come to DCU for first time in three years

Clara Kelly

A three-day blood donation clinic kicked off on Tuesday, February 12th in the Venue at The U.

Stephen Cousins, the national donor services manager at the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, said they were delighted to be back in DCU after a three-year absence. He said that for GiveBlood, having clinics in colleges is vital “to attract new young donors”.

He said that given only three per cent of the eligible population are active blood donors and one in four of people will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives: “it is crucial that those who do get the importance of blood donation and have been motivated to attend, continue to do so into the future.”

He added that: “many people who give in college might only give a few times over their college lifetime but the seed is planted,” and are more likely to then become regular blood donors.

Cousins also said that college clinics tend to be busy. “I know it’s frustrating if and when the queues are a little long, but they are key clinics in any given week and often some of the biggest clinics of the week across the whole country will be a college clinic.”

He explained that they’re for maintaining the current blood supply and that “we [GiveBlood] only ever have about seven days blood on hand nationally – and often less than that.”

He also noted typically only 45 per cent of those who try to donate give a successful donation their first time, saying: “it is absolutely crucial these donors don’t get disheartened.”

However, certain restrictions do apply. According to the Irish blood transfusion service, you can’t donate blood if you have spent one or more years in the UK from 1980-1996.

And men who have had sex with another man (MSM) – even using condoms or PrEP – must have a one year abstinence period before being able to donate blood. Before January 2017, this was previously a lifetime ban.

Females who have had sex with an MSM must also wait the same abstinence period to be able to donate.

Dean O’Reilly, chairperson of DCU LGBTA society said: “It’s truly unfortunate that men who have sex with men continue to be disallowed to donate blood without a one year abstinence period.”

He added that: “Despite other countries shortening or even out-right abolishing the ban, Ireland continues to allow homophobic policy to govern practice.”

Clara Kelly

Image Credit: Alison Clair