Ahead of World Blood Donor Day on 14 June, we spoke to frequent donor Aisling Dalton about what giving blood means to her
Everyday life doesn’t present many opportunities to do something that can make a lifesaving difference to someone else. Donating blood is an act that can have a tremendous impact, even beyond the fact that it can often save someone’s life.
Visiting an Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) clinic to donate blood is also a meaningful, and effective, way to help someone who is fighting a serious illness. Aisling Dalton, a regular donor and Vodafone employee, fully understands the importance of such a contribution.
Her personal experiences gave her a better understanding of the struggles people living with serious illnesses face every day, alongside a desire to help. Donating blood was one of the ways for her to achieve that, and it soon became an important part of her own life as well.
“After my mum died, I wanted to ‘give back’ and giving blood was all I could really do. So many people are touched by cancer and a lot of people are not aware that cancer patients depend on IBTS over the course of their treatment.
“What has kept me motivated to continue is my friend’s daughter Emily also lost her battle with cancer last year and again she depended on blood donation over the course of her treatment. My nephew has just reached his 200th day in hospital following Covid complications and again he needed blood during the initial treatment,” Aisling says.
It would be understandable for some to feel trepidation about donating blood for the first time. Aisling had her concerns before first visiting a clinic, but said it didn’t take long for the team to put her mind at ease.
“I was definitely a little apprehensive but knew I was in safe hands, it is only a pint of blood!
“The team are amazing they talk you through everything, it was pretty much as expected. Love my cup of tea at the end and a proper excuse to eat chocolate.
“Lots of times I hear ‘oh, I don’t like needles.’ Well, we have all gone through Covid vaccinations and boosters. Without a doubt giving blood was so much easier, no pain in the arm, the team keep telling you to hold the pressure on the needle area and it works every time. Not even a bruise shows up,” she says.
If someone was to ask Aisling for advice about whether or not to donate blood, her advice is simple. Once your questions have been answered and any initial concerns put to bed, the benefits of donating blood become even more apparent.
“Just go for it. It’s such a great feeling that you have done something good, you also get a ‘thank you’ text explaining where your donation has gone which adds to the feel-good factor,” says.
Those text messages are sponsored by Aisling’s employer, Vodafone. About 6m texts are sent to donors annually about upcoming clinics and appointment reminders, and Vodafone staff are encouraged to donate blood if and when they can.
“I think employers could reward and motivate staff by organising days for giving blood, or even better facilitate staff for a few hours to attend a local clinic.,” she says.
Meeting the constant demand for blood donations is something that will require a great deal more people like Aisling. The IBTS has regular clinics all over the country, and you can find your nearest one here.
Speaking about how important it is for us to meet that demand, Orla O’Brien, CEO of IBTS says: “IBTS needs to collect 3,000 donations every week to keep up with increasing hospital demand. Every family in Ireland is reliant on blood and platelet donors with two-thirds of all donated units of blood used to help patients to fight cancer.
“We are thankful to Vodafone for their texting support and we ask regular donors in particular that when you are texted during the year, please call to make an appointment if you can. Or, if you are thinking about giving blood, take the quick eligibility test on giveblood.ie or just contact us and we can discuss it with you.”
This partnership between the IBTS and Vodafone plays an important role in keeping blood donors across Ireland connected. Anne O’Leary CEO of Vodafone Ireland adds: “Vodafone are delighted to support IBTS for many years with this vital service.
“Texting is the key way for IBTS to let its donors know about when and where they are needed, but also when their blood is being used to save someone else’s life – a truly incredible action by blood donors that Ireland as a country should be truly thankful for.”
Think about becoming a donor today. If you’re a regular donor and the IBTS texted you, call to make an appointment. Or, if it’s your first time, check your eligibility with the quick quiz online here. You can also contact IBTS at 1800 731 137.