A MOTORBIKE group which drives hundreds of miles to deliver life-saving supplies to patients in the Mid-West has been described as “amazing” by the Minister for Finance.
Michael Noonan was speaking at the official launch of the Blood Bike Mid-West group, which has been in operation since last year.
“What you do it important, it’s amazing, it’s relevant, and my words won’t add to it,” said the Minister. “It if wasn’t for the voluntary service it would be less of a country.”
The voluntary organ-isation provides free, emergency transport, primarily by motorbike, of blood products, breast milk and medical records to the Health Service Executive, private hospitals, clinics and hospices. It was set up in response to the identified need for an out hours service providing the transport of essential items to relieve emergency situations.
As there is no breast milk bank in the Republic of Ireland, the bikers transports products from the breast milk bank in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, to support premature babies and sick infants, and their mothers, in the mid-west. Blood Bike groups are the sole transportation providers for breast milk in the Republic.
John Sheedy, from Killaloe, one of the directors of Blood Bike Mid-West, explained his reasons for getting involved after his son Noel died aged seven after a battle with meningitis 17 years ago. “There was a special drug he needed but it was held in Dublin and the hospital had to get it down to Limerick. They did it as fast as they could, but it was too late for Noel. Some years later, I saw how well Blood Bike UK was working and I thought if we could do that here, wouldn’t it be fantastic?
“I felt if we could save even one other family from the pain that we are still going through, it would be worthwhile”.
One of the motorbikes at the launch was named after Noel, and another was named after the late Dan Gallery, who worked with the Mid-Western Regional Hospital Development Trust and was instrumental in the setting up of Blood Bike Mid West.
Ken Driscoll, chairperson of Blood Bike Mid-West, said they are constantly looking for support, fundraising and for new volunteers as they try to expand their service within the Mid-West region.
“We also have volunteer opportunities in Blood Bike Mid-West for motorcyclists, drivers and operational controllers, as well as in the admin and support end of things, including book-keeping, fundraising and public relations,” he explained.
He said they have never turned down a request from a hospital, and have a “100% success rate. They are not mad bikers looking for an adrenalin rush,” he laughed, “I burst with pride when I think of how far we’ve come as a team”.
Frank Keane, directorate manager, maternal and child health, University Maternity Hospital in Limerick, said the service helps them to deliver on their “commitments to better patient care, by enabling us to quickly transport emergency bloods and breast milk supplies from the breast milk bank in Enniskillen, along with delivering imaging CDs to Temple Street in Dublin.
“It is a true example of the effectiveness of interaction between public and voluntary services in the delivery of effective healthcare,” said Mr Keane.
The hours of operation are Monday to Thursday from 7pm-7am and from 7pm Friday evenings to 7am Monday mornings.
Blood Bike Mid-West riders are professional or semi-professional motorbike riders. Anyone interested in getting involved can contact www.bloodbikemidwest.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org