More hospital surgery is being carried out in developed countries like Ireland but blood transfusions are falling, according to the medical director of the blood service.
Dr Ian Franklin, of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS), said we were using less blood despite people getting older and more operations being performed in hospital.
"Techniques in avoiding blood loss, and the awareness that blood is necessary only when it will clearly save or improve the quality of life, have worked to reduce usage.
"Even major surgery may be performed with no real likelihood of bleeding, although of course no surgeon or anaesthetist will allow an operation to go ahead unless blood is available."
He said very few blood donations made in blood banks here last year were found to be positive for the main conditions for which it tests – HIV/AIDS and hepatitis viruses B and C.
No confirmed cases of a patient getting a virus through transfusion were reported, he added.
A new test was introduced for the West Nile virus. Previously, Irish donors who had recently travelled to areas abroad where cases of the virus were confirmed had to be excluded from donation when they returned home.
These include the United States and increasing areas of Europe.
The introduction of the test meant travellers to these regions no longer have to delay donations.
"No positive results were found but almost 2,000 donations were taken that would otherwise have been refused."