Who we are
The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service exists to fully supply the needs of all hospitals and clinical units in the province with safe and effective blood and blood products and other related services. The discharge of this function includes a commitment to the care and welfare of our voluntary donors.
It is an independent, Special Agency of the Department of Health and is responsible for the collection, testing and distribution of over 55,000 blood donations each year. The Service operates three mobile units at nearly 180 locations throughout the province. Including headquarters, located on the site of the Belfast City Hospital, a total of almost 800 donation sessions are held each year.
We’re incredibly disappointed to tell you that the interim results from both trials do not show evidence that convalescent plasma has an overall benefit on patient outcomes. The trials will continue to collect follow up information and carry out analysis, in case there is evidence of benefit in any patient subgroup.
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Northern Ireland public who have responded to our requests for people who have recovered from Covid-19 to come forward and donate. Over 3500 people have already registered to donate convalescent plasma. Following these results, we are temporarily suspending plasma donation. We will also be suspending booking new appointments. We are asking donors to please keep appointments already booked while we explore all options, and we will update them as soon as possible.
The results from the trials will be hugely disappointing to the people who have given their time and donations - many of them following severe illness or bereavement – and for the staff who have worked incredibly hard over many months. People have travelled many miles to donate, taken time away from work, and overcome fears about coming back into a hospital environment. We cannot thank them enough for all they have done.
The staff in NIBTS and the hospital trusts involved can also be proud that they have been part of the world’s largest randomised control trial of convalescent plasma not just for the treatment of COVID-19, but for any viral infection. A key scientific question has been answered.
Thank you to everyone to everyone involved for your ongoing donations, support and hard work.