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Monday, 6 December, 1999, 23:40 GMT
Body art threat to blood supplies
Tattoos: Risk of infection


Blood supplies in Northern Ireland are being threatened by a fashion fad which includes tattoos and body piercing.

Over two hundred prospective blood donors had to be turned away in a single week due to a restriction imposed by the local transfusion board.

The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service are concerned donors who have had tattoos or body piercing carried out within the past year poses an infection risk.

However, local tattoo artists and body piercing specialists are adamant they operate to the highest standards of hygiene and sterilisation.

Body percing very popular
Belfast Skinworks' Donal Kelly acknowledges that some studios do not adhere to the same standards.

"Maybe if a registration of shops and studios which follow guidelines comes into place, then people who are tattooed or pierced in professional shops could go to give blood at an earlier period than one year," he said.

However, the transfusion service has stressed that there is no restriction on anyone who has been tattooed or had their body pierced more than a year ago.

As the holiday season approaches, a time when demand for blood supplies usually peaks, they are looking for blood type "O" positive and rhesus negative.

According to Paul McElKerney, the stocks of rhesus negative blood are particularly hard to build up.

"We are actually very anxious to build up stocks towards Christmas and the New Yearm", he said.
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