Photo by Puwadon Sang-ngern on

The three years since the repeal of the 8th Amendment have seen a laudable increase in practical pro-life initiatives. There is one thing in particular that more pro-lifers should do, which requires nothing but themselves: donating blood. To mark World Blood Donor Day (14 June), here’s a short post about why pro-lifers should do this.

As with many things, the first time donating blood is the most daunting. Most of us have an instinctive aversion to having needles stuck in us and, all things considered, having our blood extracted by strangers isn’t a very appealing concept. I don’t mind admitting that I was more than a little nervous the first time I climbed the stairs to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service clinic on Dublin’s D’Olier Street. However, the staff immediately put me at my ease. The process was simple and virtually painless, and I left realising that there really hadn’t been anything to worry about. The process is made more appealing by the free refreshments afterwards (though I was disappointed to learn that the fabled pint of Guinness was no longer on offer).

Giving blood is a very practical way of helping others. Most of the blood I have given has gone to maternity hospitals (donors receive a text telling them where their blood has been dispatched to) so it’s helping to directly save the lives of women and babies. The reality of this was forcefully brought home to me recently when talking to a friend, a mother of three. She haemorrhaged when giving birth to her first child, and had to get two or three units of blood. She says that blood loss ‘feels very much like an under-talked-about trauma’. She underlined the importance of giving blood with a story about her own mother, who haemorrhaged when giving birth to her sister. Her mother was in a small rural hospital, with a very limited supply of blood, and the situation was critical. ‘That day someone happened to donate blood, and if they hadn’t, she wouldn’t have made it.’

Furthermore, one of the criteria that excludes you from donating blood is if you are pregnant, or have been pregnant in the last year. Children (under 18 years of age) are also excluded from donating blood. This means that blood donors are assisting pregnant and postpartum women, and their babies, at a time when they are unable to help themselves. It’s also worth noting that while only 3% of Irish people donate blood, statistically one in four of us will require a blood transfusion at some stage in our lives.

So, if you can, give blood. It’s a literal life-saver. 

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