The Blood Transfusion Service Board says that blood supplies are at an all time low.

The Blood Transfusion Service Board needs between 600 and 1,000 extra units of blood on its shelves to avoid the cancellation of non-emergency operations.

Dr Willie Murphy, National Medical Director of the Blood Transfusion Service Board, outlines the extent of the problem. Normally the board has a two or three day supply of blood in Dublin and Cork to deal with the national requirement. However, that supply has now been eroded to less than one day at present.

While hospitals around the country have their own blood supplies, these too are running low.

Donations are down by 10 to 15 per cent.

The board says that the fall in supply is seasonal as a dip in donations is usually recorded at this time of year. However, this year's seasonal drop is higher than normal. Ireland has also been hit by a flu epidemic over the last few weeks which has contributed to the shortage. The ongoing publicity surrounding the hepatitis C scandal is also undoubtedly a factor.

The board is now appealing for donors to come forward and many have responded with an increase in footfall to Pelican House today. One regular donor says,

It's an important thing to do. I try and go as regularly as possible.

Additional blood supplies have now been imported from Holland and emergency mobile donation units are now in operation throughout the country.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 27 January 1997. The reporter is Clare MacNamara.