The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS) returns to Enniskillen this month and as the demand for blood from hospital trusts continues to rise rapidly, the service is encouraging regular donors and new donors to make an appointment to donate.

NIBTS requires about 800 units of Blood and 160 units of platelets every week to support Northern Ireland’s five hospital trusts.

Although demand for blood decreased by about 30 per cent during the pandemic, due to a decrease in non-essential surgeries and routine procedures in the hospital setting, the NIBTS still need new donors to register and donate (register online at

“Blood is still required for many of the most critically ill patients in our healthcare system. Mothers giving birth, patients post cancer treatment, during emergency surgery and babies in ICU all still require blood and this will continue throughout the duration of this pandemic,” explained an NIBTS spokeswoman. The spokeswoman noted that although patients who are being treated for Covid-19 infection do not normally require blood, they may require plasma, one of the products obtained from blood donations.

The NIBTS are also encouraging people who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate as the plasma component of blood from donors who have had Covid-19 contains antibodies that fight against the virus.

“There has been some evidence to suggest that transfusing this plasma to patients who currently have Covid-19 may be a useful treatment for the disease. NIBTS is currently involved in a nationwide clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of this plasma called ‘Convalescent Plasma’.

“So we are encouraging anyone who has recovered from Covid-19 to find out more about becoming a Convalescent Plasma donor by visiting our website,,” the NIBTS spokeswoman added.

With the health and wellbeing of their staff and donors always a priority, the NIBTS have made a lot of changes to how they collect blood to ensure the process is as safe as possible. All donations are now via appointment only and details of how to donate can be found on their website

“We triage all donors for Covid-19 symptoms on arrival at session, we have increased cleaning, increased use of PPE and apply social distancing rules at all donation sessions. There is no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted through a blood transfusion so both giving blood and receiving a blood transfusion remain safe processes,” explained the NIBTS spokeswoman.

She continued: “Thankfully despite all the changes, we have been able to meet demand throughout the pandemic. This has been achieved through the combined efforts of the staff here in NIBTS and the generosity and commitment of our donors, who continue to come and donate at these difficult times.”

“As we move out of lockdown we are seeing demand from hospital trusts rising rapidly and we want to encourage our regular donors to make an appointment to come along and donate.

“We are also looking for new donors. We need about 6,000 new donors every year. It’s easy to register to become a donor just log on to our website There you will find information about blood donation and the things that can prevent you from donating such as medical conditions or previous blood transfusions,” the NIBTS spokeswoman told this newspaper.

The NIBTS will be holding donation sessions at St. Macartin’s Cathedral Hall, Enniskillen on Monday, September 14 from 10.30am to 1.30pm, and 3pm to 6.30pm, and Tuesday, September 15 from 10.30am to 1.30pm, and 3pm to 6pm. Make sure to register online to book an appointment (