Giving blood? The secret is to never look at the needle!

Giving Blood

GIVING BLOOD… Marie Connolly, Senior Nurse with the NI Blood Transfusion Service, tends to Austin Lynch as he donates blood

After donating blood for the 29th time Austin Lynch is still going strong!

LAST WEEK the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion  Service (NIBTS) were in Enniskillen and a large number of local people came along to donate, myself included.


As usual the blood donation sessions were in St Macartan’s cathedral hall on Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday NIBTS confirmed that a total of 275 people had donated over the two busy days in Enniskillen.

The service said they were delighted with this turnout, and that even in the middle of the summer so many had taken the time to come in and roll up their sleeves. I started to donate when I was at university in Belfast, and have tried to keep going since.

You are only allowed to donate a maximum of three times a year (female) or four times a year (male) but most donors don’t get to give that often.

Last Wednesday was my 29th time to give – but the lady sitting beside me told me this was going to be her 75th time – an amazing achievement.

This grandmother, whose name I didn’t catch, said she has been giving all her life and just feels it is something small but important she can do to help others.

Marie Connolly, senior nurse with NIBTS, said Wednesday was an incredibly busy day and Thursday less hectic but still busy as the service was down a few members of staff.

Ms Connolly said the blood is used very quickly, and a van comes in the middle of each of the sessions (mid-afternoon) to take the donated blood to Belfast where it is tested and then put to good use.


Currently less than ten per cent of the population donate regularly, meaning 90% don’t donate.

And according to NIBTS in the last year they needed 60,000 donations to keep their blood bank stocked.

Donating is easy, and virtually pain free. The donation itself takes about 15 minutes or so, and afterwards you get a cup of tea and a few chocolate biscuits, and the feeling that you’ve helped someone else less fortunate than you.

My secret is I don’t look at the needle. I’ve never looked at the nurse putting it into my arm,  and I can honestly say in all the times I’ve donated I have never seen that needle.

You feel it going in, that’s for sure, but why look? What good can it do?

Pretty much anyone who is in good health can donate.

You have to be at least 17 years of age, and weigh at least 50kgs.

First time donors can donate up to their sixty-sixth birthday, while regular donors (i.e. those who give at least one donation in a two year period) can continue to donate beyond 70 years, provided they remain otherwise fit and well.

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