THERE were surely a couple of pints of Guinness drank for old time’s sake at a special awards ceremony organised by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.
It was to celebrate 159 blood donors from the Mid-West who have donated blood 50 times – 55 from County Limerick – and eight donors who have given blood on over 100 occasions. You can only give blood every 90 days so that puts it into context.
It was only in 2012 that Diageo stopped providing bottles of the Guinness to refresh weakened members of the public after they have given blood and boost their iron levels.
So those honoured at the ceremony in the Greenhills Hotel will certainly remember Guinness being available. But while the ‘black stuff’ may be gone, the red stuff is as important as ever.
Those who gave blood 50 times were presented with a special gold pin by the chairperson of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS), Professor Anthony Staines.
While the eight, four are from Limerick, who have donated over 100 times – Gerry Behan, Corbally, Patrick Clohessy, Gouldavoher, John McInerney, Annacotty and John Murnane, Raheen – were presented with a porcelain pelican to mark their tremendous achievement. One of the eight, Andrew Scannell, just lives over the county boundary in O’Brien’s Bridge.
Aileen Browne, area manager with the IBTS, said that the ceremony was an opportunity for the transfusion service to acknowledge the tremendous contribution of these 168 donors from the Mid-West.
“Over many years they have supported the IBTS and have been quietly saving lives by regularly donating Blood.
“The IBTS needs to collect 3,000 units of blood each week and each of these 168 donors have played their part over many years to ensure that blood has been available for patients in hospitals throughout the region,” said Aileen.
Patrick Clohessy started giving blood in the late Seventies. As it is so long ago he is not sure why he went to St John’s for the first time to donate. Perhaps encouraged by his wife, who is a nurse, but one thing is for sure he has being going ever since.
He certainly remembers when it was normal to have a glass of stout afterwards.
“We had a glass of Guinness after it, no bother, but we are back to tea and coffee now,” he smiles.
Patrick recently gave his one hundred and second donation. He has certainly saved lives because he is type B negative - only two per cent of the country are that blood type.
“Once you get a few points on the card you aim for ten, then you hit 50 and you keep on going.
“I turn 65 this year, there used to be a cut off at 65 but I only asked them the other day and you can keep going until 70.
“So I’ll keep going and aim for 125,” said Patrick.
While many are squeamish about doing it and are worried about the pain, he describes it as “painless”. The only real difference between now and when he first started is that there is a lot more technology and paperwork. But once you get up on the stretcher it only takes between 10 and 20 minutes and he has never had any side effects.
Patrick encourages those who haven’t given blood before to do so.
“Hopefully it will help people and as far as I am concerned it is not a problem to do it,” said Patrick.
The IBTS is calling on people to make a special effort to donate in the coming weeks to help ensure that sufficient quantities of blood are available.
For details of your local clinic visit www.giveblood.ie or contact 061 306980.
This week the Garda Blood for Life Cycle 2014 is taking place. It passed through Limerick on Monday on their 1,000km endurance cycle through 26 counties.
Participants ask members of the public to show their support of their extreme efforts by pledging to donate a unit of blood at their next local IBTS blood donation clinic.
Giving blood holds a special place in the hearts of many of the cyclists and for those who have received it.
Nobody knows when they might need a blood transfusion.