“We’re looking for an additional 2000 donations over the next five weeks,” McKinney explained. “That’s an additional 400 donations on our normal 3000 donations that we try to collect every week.”

Ideally, the service would have seven days’ worth of blood stored. Right now, they have three.

“The number of new donors over the last number of years has dropped. We currently have an active donor base of around 85,000. Pre-Covid, we were getting around 17,5000 to 18,000 new donors. We’ve dropped significantly and we’re about half that at the moment.”

In addition to the lack of supply, there’s also been an increase in demand. “For the first quarter of this year, we issued more red cells and platelets than we have for the last ten years,” McKinney revealed. “We really need the support of donors, it’s really a supply and demand challenge.”

When down to three days’ supply, the service issues a pre-Amber warning to hospitals, informing them the blood supply is short. “And hence we take actions such as asking or launching a national appeal to avoid going to the next step, which is an Amber Alert. We’ve never had to do it in Ireland before. An Amber Alert is a situation where hospitals are asked to consider what elective surgeries actually manage not to do or postpone until we get stock levels back to where they need to be.”

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