Some 15,000 new blood donors needed in Ireland

Over 3,000 blood donors are needed every week in Ireland.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

17.27 28 Feb 2024

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Some 15,000 new blood donors n...

Some 15,000 new blood donors needed in Ireland

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

17.27 28 Feb 2024

Share this article

An appeal has been launched to find 15,000 new blood donors needed in Ireland this year to keep up with current demand. 

On Lunchtime Live today, Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) spokesperson Dr Ellen McSweeney said the average donor age is 45 in Ireland – as she appealed for more young people to come on board.

IBTS says 3,000 donors are needed every week to meet demand – with just 3% of all eligible donors currently playing their part.


Dr McSweeney said they are also trying to “diversify” their active donor list.

“We welcome all potential donors,” she said.

“We particularly would like to have donors from the African community, African heritage donors.

“As we know, our population is diversifying and we need to have donors from the population that best matches the needs of patients in Ireland.”


Dr McSweeney said people must check their eligibility before turning up at a clinic to donate blood.

“There may be temporary things to rule them out like tattoos or a recent trip to the hospital,” she said.

“There are lots of other temporary reasons too like if you’ve recently had acupuncture.

“With acupuncture, it depends on if it was done by a GP – which would mean you are okay to donate, depending on the condition of course.

“Acupuncture rules you out for four months if it's not done by a medical practitioner.”

She also advised people not to arrive at a clinic if they have a headache, cold, or flu – and also to come adequately hydrated.

Ruled out

Dr McSweeney said there are a number of criteria that permanently rule people out from donating blood.

“People who have had angina, who have had heart failure, or people who needed to have stints put in – they’re not eligible,” she said.

“People with severe respiratory conditions or severe renal conditions, like someone who needs dialysis or has renal failure – those are permanent deferrals.

“It also extends to someone who has had a transfusion in Ireland or elsewhere since January 1980.”

Cancer survivors

Dr McSweeney said cancer survivors are also ineligible to donate.

“Part of that is actually because we are so cautious,” she said.

“We take the precautionary principles because even if there’s a tiny risk that someone who has cancer could transmit that in blood – that wouldn’t be accepted.

“There aren’t any known cases, that we’re aware of, that people have transmitted cancer through blood donation.

“Saying that, an EU directive came into law in 2005 that specifically says that if it’s an ‘inside you’ cancer - you can’t accept a donation from that person.”

Dr McSweeney said it is okay to donate blood 48/hrs after receiving botox, but only if it was administered by a doctor and if it was not used to treat an underlying health condition.

Visit to find out more on how to donate.

You can listen back here.

Main image: A young man donates blood. Image: Alamy Stock Photo

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