Bikers' blood service a life-saver
A GROUP of motorbike enthusiasts are combining their hobby with saving lives -- with a free service transporting blood between hospitals.
Blood Bank West is the first voluntary service of its kind in Ireland and is based on a system operated by trained bikers in the UK for the past 50 years.
It was launched at Galway University Hospital yesterday by actor, adventurer and celebrity biker Charley Boorman.
He said that the scheme had provided an invaluable service in the UK.
"The bottom line is that Blood Bank West will save lives and isn't it wonderful to see so many people willing to give their time to help others," he said.
The Irish service has been set up by insurance broker Mike Carty along with a group of friends.
"I saw a television documentary last November about the blood bikes and felt it was something I would like to get involved in once I realised it did not exist here. So I got together with a few friends and we set about establishing it here," he said.
Blood Bank West will service hospitals in the local area initially. But it is expected that the service could expand to cover the entire country as other voluntary groups are set up.
All of the riders have been specially trained and at least one of them will be on call each evening. But despite the urgency of their cargo, the bikers will not be allowed to speed.
"Bikes can filter through traffic and traffic jams are not as big a problem," added Mr Carty.