Patrick Dunlea (centre), pictured with his dad Paddy and mam Chrissie. Paddy ran the Dublin Marathon at the weekend to raise awareness about the country's shortage of blood donors.

Patrick Dunlea ran the Dublin Marathon to raise awareness about Ireland’s shortage of blood and platelet donors this past weekend on Sunday, 29 October.
Mr Dunlea completed the 38th Dublin Marathon – his first marathon-length running event – in just under four hours and did not seek out sponsorship, but rather wished to highlight the lack of blood and platelet donors in Ireland.
“The reason I ran the marathon on Sunday was for my Dad who is currently fighting Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML),” said Mr Dunlea, “and as part of his ongoing Chemotherapy he also receives blood and platelet donations. He always donated blood himself and I always remember being with him when he was donating in the GAA cub in Midleton and he would give his pint of blood and I would get a can of fizzy and a blood donor’s pencil. I started donating blood myself when I was 19 and up until this year I donated blood but now I’m a platelet donor. You cannot give blood and platelets at the same time so I have chosen to give platelets as there are only 2,400 platelet donors in Ireland and only 3% of the population give blood.”
One in four people will require a blood donation at some point in their lives and over 3,000 donors are needed every week. While 27% of donated blood is used in emergency situations or to save lives during surgery (especially for cardiac procedures), a single blood donation can aid in the recovery of up to three hospital patients such as Mr Dunlea’s father Paddy.
“My Mam, Chrissie and Dad, Paddy, travelled up the morning of the race to surprise me at the finish line which was nice and a bit emotional,” said Mr Dunlea.
Mr Dunlea, who is originally from Midleton but now lives in Saleen with his wife Liz and their three children Braden, Luke and Shane wished to make note of his wife’s support all through his lengthy training process for last weekend’s endeavour.
“I used to play GAA with Midleton and used to run in the winter just to keep fit so I am not a total novice to running,” said Mr Dunlea, but this was definitely the toughest thing I have ever put my body through. My time was 3 hours, 58 minutes and 33 seconds so I am delighted to break the four-hour mark for my first marathon. I started my training back in June doing 4, 5 and 6k a few times a week and built up the training slowly from there. I joined Aghada Running Club back in August as I was struggling with the long runs on my own and I must say a huge thanks to Jimmy and everyone in Aghada for being so friendly and welcoming.”
Midleton Park Hotel is holding its second blood transfusion clinic this week from 3-5pm and 7-9pm today, Thursday 2 November. The process of donating blood usually takes between an hour and an hour-and-a-half to complete from registration to refreshments. Generally speaking to become a blood donor you must be in good health, between 18 and 65 years of age, and weigh at least 7st 12lbs (50kgs) or less than 20st 6lbs (130kgs).
Platelet donations take slightly longer as the platelets are collected through an apheresis machine and separated from the donor’s blood, with the blood returned to the body. As the red cells are returned to the donor during the process, platelet donations can be made every 28 days. Yet the number of platelet donors in Ireland lies at around 2,400, with 22,000 platelet transfusions taking place each year in Ireland.
Platelets are required for the treatment of patients with cancer, leukaemia, or who underwent major surgery, as well as for premature babies, burns patients and accident victims with extensive injuries.
Visit Giveblood.ie for further information or to take a ten-question eligibility quiz that takes a minute to complete.

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