Thousands of people with the blood condition haemochromatosis will be able to donate to the blood supply, under a new programme launched by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.
Haemochromatosis is a hereditary condition in which excessive amounts of iron are absorbed from the diet and deposited in various organs.
IBTS Medical and Scientific Director Dr Ian Franklin said it is hoped that within a year the new service will secure around 5,000 donations a year, which is up to 4% of the national blood supply.
Around 40,000 people in Ireland have haemochromatosis.
The treatment, called phlebotomy, involves removing excess iron from the body, but the blood taken has been discarded up to now.
From today, certain patients will be able to donate blood at the Irish Blood Transfusion Service Clinic in D'Olier Street in Dublin and from later this year in Cork.
These patients will have to meet the normal donor selection criteria.
The IBTS believes that at least 50% of patients with haemochromatosis attending clinics will be able to regularly donate.
The programme will operate for two years on a pilot basis.
People with haemochromatosis who would like to donate blood can contact the IBTS Clinic at 01-4745000.
More details are also available at www.giveblood.ie