Polish community urged to become blood donors

Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter

Polish community urged to become blood donors

Bloody Foreigners blood donor campaign launched. Pic: Maxwells

Laois' big Polish community is being urged to donate blood as part of a new national campaign.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland, Irish Blood Transfusion Service and Forum Polonia has joined forces to launch Bloody Foreigners, a campaign highlighting the contribution of Polish nationals to the Irish blood bank and encouraging more to come forward.

The campaign culminates in a ‘Bloody Foreigners’ Day of Action this week, where Polish blood donors, new and existing, will be encouraged to donate on the same day.

Stephen Cousins is the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) National Donor Services Manager.

“Polish people are very much part of the Irish communities they live in, they have put down roots in Ireland and take an active part of life in Ireland. Being a blood donor really demonstrates this community in action.

“In Ireland there is always a need for new donors and we are delighted to welcome anyone who is able to safely give. The Polish community are the largest population group in number after Irish nationals and we are thrilled more than 1,000 of them donated blood last year. We would love to see more people sign up and this campaign is a perfect opportunity."

Teresa Buczkowska is Integration Coordinator, Immigrant Council of Ireland and Polish national.

“There is a culture of giving blood in Poland and when I moved to Ireland I wanted to continue, but I didn’t realise I could. One day I saw the mobile blood clinic in the town where I was living and popped in. I was delighted to discover I was eligible to donate, so I registered there and then, gave a blood sample, and started donating three months later.

“I really like giving blood and continue to regularly donate. I am proud to realise hundreds of Polish people living in Ireland also regularly give blood – it’s a very material way of giving back to the society in which I live. I’ve just made my 10th donation, and am delighted with my commemorative pin from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. I will wear it with pride.”

Barnaba Dorda is Chair of Forum Polonia.

“I have been living in Ireland for 13 years now but it wasn’t until I heard about the Bloody Foreigners campaign that I first properly considered giving blood. It’s one of those things – you might mean to do it, but never get around to it. I think it’s so important to donate blood, for many reasons. On a human level it is important to support others, to help others. It’s a great way to show how much you value the people and society you live among”.

Tuesday, July 30 marks 'Bloody Foreigners Day of Action' where as many Polish people as possible will be encouraged to make a blood donation or register their interest to attend the next clinic in their area.

During the run-up the Immigrant Council of Ireland in partnership with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service celebrated the contributions made by the Polish community and encouraging more Polish people to come forward and donate.

Polish is the single biggest foreign language spoken in Laois while the biggest single nationality other than Irish in Laois hails from Poland.

Figures from Census 2016 show that there were 2,935 Polish speakers living in Laois on Census night 2016. There were 2,721 Polish nationals living in Laois of which 2,452 were born in Poland.

Further information on blood donation in Ireland:

Polish donors must understand and be able to be understood in English

You cannot have someone else interpret or answer questions on your behalf on clinic. The reason behind this is that you need to, as an individual, understand the questions being asked on the Health and Lifestyle questionnaire and the implications and risks to you in regards to becoming a blood donor.

The first time that a Polish person donates they will be asked to give a ‘sample only’ donation if they were born outside of Ireland.

If you have been born outside of Ireland & the UK, when you come to clinic for the first time you will be asked to give sample only – so only a small bit of blood is collected at this point and sent for testing to the IBTS labs.

Once the analysis of your sample complete the regular pre donation donor criteria will apply - see web link for information

In Ireland you can give blood every 90 days

When your clinic is next visiting your area, it has been 90 days since your last clinic visit and if any relevant deferral is complete, you will be contacted by IBTS about a week beforehand encouraging you to give blood again. Approximately 7 days before the clinic, if you are eligible, you will receive a text message (if you have opted in) reminding you about your local clinic. You will also receive a text on the day of the clinic, and may receive a special group specific text if your specific blood group is in particular short supply on the day of the clinic.

Blood lasts just 35 days and the IBTS need 3,000 blood donations a week to keep hospitals supplied. Blood for new-borns must be less than 5 days old.