07/09/2009

'Give Blood', Says Minister

There's been a life-saving plea for NI people to donate blood.

Stormont Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has himself given blood and encouraged others to do the same.

The Minister said this showed just how easy it is to save a life through his support for the current campaign to increase the number of people in Northern Ireland that give blood.

"Blood donation is vital for the delivery of health care, saving and enhancing lives.

"We all know someone who has benefited from donated blood through emergency surgery, for routine operations, in the treatment of cancer, or childbirth.

"Around 500 patients in Northern Ireland need life saving blood each week.

"To ensure an adequate supply to our hospitals, we need 300 people to give blood every day," he said.

"There is of course a heightened importance for people to donate blood ahead of an anticipated surge in swine flu cases in the autumn and winter.

"This would rule out those normally healthy regular donors who would not be eligible to donate until fully recovered from the illness," he continued.

"With an increasing demand for blood and only 6% of Northern Ireland's population currently donating, that leaves 94% of the eligible population that do not donate," he said.

"I would urge all eligible people across the province to consider becoming a blood donor."

Welcoming the support, Charles Kinney from the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service said: "I would like to thank the Minister for again coming back to donate and for encouraging new donors to come forward and regular donors to keep coming back, to meet the current and future needs of patients.

"I would appeal to everyone to take the Minister's lead and come along and donate blood."

Paul McElkerney, Donor Recruitment Manager added: "Current projections indicate an increased demand of around 1% from hospital compared to last year.

"Whilst this may appear to be quite small, the reality is that it will require over 500 extra donations before the end of this year."

There are almost 1,000 blood donation sessions at 240 locations throughout the province, and most people aged between the age of 17 and 65 can give blood for the first time and continue to donate three times a year throughout their life.

(BMcC/GK)

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