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Graceful giving

09 January 2015

THERE are two Archbishops of Armagh - one Church of Ireland, and the other Roman Catholic - and this Christmas they joined together in their Christmas message to say that life is a gift, and that among the most valuable gifts anyone can give is blood, or an organ.

The Most Revd Richard Clarke (left), C of I, and the Most Revd Eamon Martin (right), RC, both broadcast nationally across Ireland and Northern Ireland on RTÉ. Dr Clarke began by saying: "Today, we want to reflect upon gifts that many of us could give and yet probably never thought to give. The 'fleshandblood' campaign, as it's known, encourages people to become a blood or organ donor as a testimony of Christian charity and love for our neighbour" (News, 16 May).

They had visited a blood-donation session in Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone, run by the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service, and Archbishop Martin said: "Each year, on the whole island of Ireland, nearly 100,000 people receive blood, or blood products.

"Donated blood is usually used by hospitals with five to seven days of collection. Your blood could help save a life. It could go to a mother during childbirth, to someone with cancer, to a person undergoing routine surgery, or even be used in the traumatic aftermath of a road traffic accident."

The transfusion services in Ireland need to attract about 30,000 donors each year, their spokesman, Paul McElkerney, said. But, at present, only three to six per cent of the eligible population gave blood; so they were "absolutely delighted with the support already given by both Archbishops. With the help of all churches, we will be able to continue to meet the demand for blood, and blood products, to help save lives of patients in all our hospitals."

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