Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Oscar's New Year Resolution

WAOW what a HUGE success todays give blood session was at City Hall!  We are entirely overwhelmed and delighted by the numbers of people who turned up, and the length of time some waited to make their donation!  We found out that people were waiting on the doors to open this morning at 10am, 50 people were in the queue by 10.15am, and approximately 400 passed through the registration process by 5pm!  Not all turned out to be eligible to donate this time, and some opted to attend a future session local to them.  We will find out tomorrow if the NIBTS "donations in one session" record has been broken - it currently stands at 190 units...

Looking at all the faces in the crowd, strangers sitting patiently waiting for up to 2.5 hours, it was a really emotional thing.  Anyone we spoke to said their reason for being there today was "to help Oscar", "because of Oscar", "to help kids like Oscar", and many were young first time donors - it was such a humbling experience.  Some were terrified of needles and visibly anxious, others hadn't given blood in over 30 years and had been inspired to start again, and many were wearing school uniforms or had just completed exams.  Several people asked for information on how to arrange their own donation sessions in their area in the future.  Parents queued with their tiny babies, some people returned 2 or 3 times waiting on the queue to shorten, and there was an incredibly positive atmosphere throughout the day.  Everyone said they felt so good afterwards, knowing that they have made a difference to someone in need!  We tried to speak to as many people as we could, but if we didn't get to speak to you, please know that we are entirely grateful for what you did today in Oscar's name.  This is one of those times that words just aren't enough, but THANK YOU ALL!

We know quite a few people had to leave as the queues were too big - returning to work and picking kids up prevented some from donating blood today which is entirely understandable, thank you for making the effort.  The blood transfusion service staff told us that the number of new donors who turned up today meant there was a processing "bottleneck" as health checks were carried out, but assured everyone there that normally the process of giving blood takes just 45 minutes in total.  Today's circumstances were exceptional, but who could complain about that?  All those new donors are now registered on the NIBTS database, most are returning to local sessions in the near future, and hopefully all are going to be lifelong blood donors!

Some people found out they were ineligible to donate today, others ineligible for life, and were incredibly disappointed.  Please do not be disheartened!  By even trying to make a donation you have done more than most people, and if you can convince 2 other people to become blood donors on your behalf then you will be doing more than your fair share to increase donor numbers here.  Hopefully we can smash that 6% barrier, which is how many of us currently donate blood!

So many people to thank, and hopefully I cover everyone:

Councillor Tierna Cunningham who proposed the motion of highlighting the Blood Transfusion Service to Belfast City Council in November, all the councillors who wholeheartedly supported and embraced this idea, Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir for hosting todays event at City Hall, and all the council staff who worked hard behind the scenes to get everything in place.  We loved the pulsating red lighting on City Hall last night and today!

The NI Blood Transfusion Service staff who made everything comfortable and pain free for the donors today, and worked under significant pressure to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.  They stayed late to make sure every last drop of blood was collected, and we heard some wonderful feedback from the donors.

Everyone who spread the word and encouraged others to donate, particularly Michael 'The Blade' Rutter (Superbike Racer) and Adam Keefe (Captain of Belfast Giants).  Blast106, Downtown Radio, Cool FM, and UTV for the superb coverage.

Oscar, for being the amazing little boy who makes people make things happen (including us!) 

Finally, thank you #TeamOscar, you have done our boy proud and saved so many lives by your actions today. 

Perhaps Oscar's New Year Resolution #ONYR can be an annual event, with hundreds of new donors signing up every January in his name xxxx

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