‘Bloody foreigners’ pledge donations for Irish blood drive
2018-08-01 15:27:02 -
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Photo source: Szymon Lazewski 

By Chinedu Onyejelem

Several Polish blood donors recently came together to celebrate their contribution to Irish blood banks.

The event, which concluded the ‘Bloody Foreigners’ campaign, has made hundreds of Polish blood donors both new and existing to pledge to donate blood.

Metro Éireann learned that the campaign — a collaboration between the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) and Forum Polonia — focused on the Polish community “because they are the largest migrant population group in Ireland, and have a culture of contributing to their communities through blood donation,” according to Stephen Cousins of the IBTS.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and stories from the Polish blood donors in Ireland,” said the national donor services manager. “From the driving instructor in Meath, to the person in Gorey who is taking the lead in his local community helping promote and recruit other potential blood donors, and to the young Polish science graduate working in the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and encouraging others to give blood, it is clear we couldn’t do without regular donations from our Polish neighbours.”

There about 122,500 Polish people in Ireland, according to Census 2016. Last year, the IBTS had 79,000 blood donors out of a total population of 4.77 million. Some 1,123 (1.44%) of these donors were Polish.

While the ‘Bloody Foreigners’ campaign focused on Polish people, organisers said: “We encourage anyone who is able to donate.”

Simple thing to do

Metro Eireann asked Teresa Buczkowska, an 11-time blood donor in Ireland, how it feels to give blood.

“On a strictly physical level, you will feel a pinch while the needle is inserted in to your vein,” says the PhD student in equality studies, who has lived in Ireland for over 10 years. 

“The pinch may be a bit uncomfortable for some donors but it’s nothing to be afraid of, it lasts less than a second. After that, there is no significant physical sensation during the blood donation process. The whole process lasts around 10 minutes, and you are constantly monitored by a health professional.”

On a more emotional level, however, Buczkowska says the feeling of having done something so important that could help save another life is incomparable to anything else.

“It is such a simple thing to do, it does not cost you much time or effort but the effect of it is profound for the blood recipients.

“Just wait for the time you will receive a text message from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service informing you which hospital your blood has been dispatched to. That’s the time when things are getting real and your eyes are getting full of tears. That’s the time you know that your blood is about to save someone’s life.“

Buczkowska — who is also integration and anti-racism coordinator with the ICI — added that whenever preparing to give blood, she checked her eligibility prior to attending the clinic.
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