'Bloody Foreigners!' - Meet Tomasz
Meet Tomasz - one of the 'Bloody Foreigners' who came to Ireland as a teenager and through his work with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service has been encouraged to regularly donate.
I came to Ireland about 10 years ago, when I was 15 or 16 years old. My dad had been here for a year and had a house and everything set up, then my mum, me and my two sisters followed.
The first six months were the hardest. I didn’t know the language and I didn’t know the culture. But after about six to eight months I had picked up English and made friends. I was lucky because no one was ever malicious. A few of the lads in school slagged me when I butchered English at the beginning, but it was never vicious.
After school I studied Biomedical Science in Galway and am now doing a Masters in Molecular Medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. I started working with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service a couple of years ago and I got to see how blood donation was processed. Because of what I saw I was encouraged to start donating. I found out my blood type is O-, which can be given to anyone, whatever their blood type so it’s important people with this blood type donate if they can.
Working in the IBTS labs every day I see the blood stocks and I know how we struggle to get enough new donations every day. My dad donated when he was in the army in Poland so I’m trying to persuade him to start again. I did manage to get another friend in Sligo to visit the mobile clinic. Unfortunately my mum and sisters cannot donate.
The first time does take a long time because there are a lot of questions on the form, but I know from working in the lab how important it is to ensure donations are as safe as possible so you need all the information. You provide a sample and you can’t properly donate for three months, but after that it is straightforward.
When I first heard the campaign was called Bloody Foreigners I thought it was weird and wondered what was going on, but I looked it up and heard all the positive stories and realised it was a great idea. The name has definitely grown on me and I think it’s a really good way to engage people because they will look twice when they hear it!
If you want to find out more about donating blood, please visit the Irish Blood Transfusion Service website.