Tuesday 20 February 2018

A bloody tale of superheroes helping complete strangers

LAST THURSDAY evening, I tried to join an extraordinary league of people but, unfortunately for me, couldn't, as I lived in the right place at the wrong time!

Who knew that being resident in the UK prior to 1997 meant you couldn't donate blood in Ireland?

According to the extensive literature available on the night, those who did live in Great Britain between 1980 and 1996 were at risk of being exposed to CJD (or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease to give its full title).

In Ireland, we tend to call it Mad Cow Disease.

Oh the irony, as I'm sure I have been called that behind my back on numerous occasions and, given the highly suspicious burgers I consumed at 4 a.m. whilst living in the East End of London, I'm sure they have every right to be cautious!

A propensity for low blood pressure also ruled me out, but the good news for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is that the Boyne Valley Hotel was positively jumping last Thursday with those whose blood passed all the exams.

Faces I've known for years sat patiently waiting for their turn to be quiet heroes, while first-timers reacted with a mixture of happiness and trepidation when told they were clear to donate.

The blood clinic was run with military precision, but the atmosphere was more like that of a carnival.

The last time I saw that many crisps, fizzy drinks and biccies, was at a triplets' birthday party.

And where would I even begin to commend the nurses who dealt with each and every donor with composure and compassion, no matter what the outcome.

Giving blood is something I have always wanted to do, but during years as an air hostess and travel writer it was banned, and life just happened since then I suppose.

The nurse who looked after me could tell I was disappointed that I didn't qualify, but a gentle hand on my knee and a few calming words made all the difference, and free pencils and tea were still offered, especially to my very fidgety children!

The nurses taking the blood did so with a warm smile or a robust sense of humour, whichever was appropriate to the individual.

In the two and half hours I was there, the atmosphere remained jovial yet efficient, and I am in awe of all those hundreds of Drogheda people who so matter-of-factly helped strangers they will never meet.

Looking at our own front page story last week – about a young woman who lost 80 per cent of her blood during child birth – gives you just a hint of how vital a good stock of blood is to our medical professionals.

A little jealous that I will never be able to assist, I applaud each and every one of you and hope we never run out of men and women who are willing to be extraordinary, with the only reward being a sense of satisfaction.

* I SINCERELY hope that St. Ita's School wil soon have a spanking new school building on a greenfield site on the Ballymakenny Road.

The 50-year-old school, which has been increasingly feeling the pinch on its Crushrod Avenue site for the past few years, deserves to be given room to breathe and expand, every bit as much as the so-called 'mainstream' schools in the town.

A visit to St. Ita's last week while Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was in town revealed a happy and delightful school full of well-behaved pupils.

But more than that, the boys and girls were well-rounded, informed and more than a match for a Government Minister when it came to question and answer time!

Staff over the years have done pioneering work for children with special needs, but the advances have meant the school has far outgrown the confines of its town centre location.

It has been refreshing in recent times to see how many new campuses have sprung up in Drogheda, with more to come.

Even though I live in the Ballymakenny Road area, and I'm sure a further influx of students will add even more to the traffic woes, I am equally confident that Drogheda Borough Council will now address the traffic management as a matter of urgency before proceeding with these much-needed facilities.

Won't you...?

Drogheda Independent

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