SIR – Dr Varadkar’s decision to consider relaxing some of the rules on the giving of blood donations shows how far the Fine Gael-Labour Government is prepared to go.
Despite the Minister for Health’s assurances, it is hard to believe, in the circumstances, that the proposal is inspired by science alone.
Have we not got here, then, a case of ideology trumping patient safety? There is always a risk with taking blood that is not one’s own. However, one must distinguish between unavoidable risk and avoidable risk.
Even as a non-practising doctor, Deputy Varadkar will be aware that, though minimal, a risk of contracting HIV (and perhaps other infections) still exists and that this is a risk that is avoidable.
Any schoolboy/girl can tell him that certain men are not the only persons who may not give blood intended for use by other persons. For instance, persons who have contracted jaundice in their youth, or over a certain age, or are taking blood thinning drugs (thus giving rise to potential life problems during surgery), etc may not either. It is hard to see how one can argue in favour of ‘offence’ in such cases.
Persons not disqualified on medical grounds who give blood, give it, not as a right, but in the public interest, they give it at inconvenience to themselves and are to be greatly credited for their unpaid voluntary work. Further information can be obtained from Irish Blood Transfusion Service (www.giveblood.ie).
Even with testing, persons knowingly taking blood which might have been obtained in debatable circumstances, would be crazy to do so.