Ireland: Increasing blood donation among migrant populations
St James's Hospital in Dublin is seeking to increase the diversity of blood donations it receives, by targeting the city's migrant population. The issue of diversity in blood donation is particularly important in the treatment of patients with sickle cell disease, as they require blood transfusions from people with an ethnic background similar to their own.
The hospital recently launched a pilot study survey on blood donation, as part of a larger mapping initiative investigating the ethnic diversity of blood donors in Ireland. Previous initiatives aiming to increase blood donation among migrant and ethnic minority communities in Ireland have included an awareness raising campaign by Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassaemia Ireland, an organisation that campaigns for patients' rights, and the Bloody Foreigners campaign.
Launched in 2018 by the Immigrant Council, in partnership with Forum Polonia and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS), the Bloody Foreigners campaign encouraged migrants to donate blood. Although the campaign focused on the Polish community, all migrants were encouraged to take part. IBTS also changed the rules for potential blood donors born in malaria-affected regions, and is currently exploring new and improved ways of malaria testing for potential donors.