by Aoife McLoughlin
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan was stuck for words when he officially launched Blood Bike MidWest – the voluntary organisation set up for emergency transport of blood products, serving Limerick, Clare and Tipperary.
Launching the service at the SouthCourt Hotel last week, Mr Noonan said: “No words of mine will make what you do anymore important,relevant and amazing.”
Blood Bike MidWest (BBMW) is a free out-of-hours emergency transport service, primarily by motorbike, for transporting medical records and blood samples to HSE and private hospitals. The service also delivers breast milk for premature babies at the University Maternity Hospital Limerick from County Fermanagh.
Explaining his reasons for getting involved, BBMW director John Sheedy said: “I began doing voluntary work after my son Noel died. He was only seven… Our local doctor and the doctors and nurses at the hospital were outstanding and they did their absolute best for Noel. There was a special drug he needed but it was held in Dublin and the hospital had to get it down to Limerick.
“They did it as fast as they could, but it was too late for Noel… Some years later, I saw how well Blood Bike UK was working and I thought if we could do that here, wouldn’t it be fantastic? I felt if we could save even one other family from the pain that we are still going through, it would be worthwhile”
Minister Noonan unveiled the two BBMW bikes named in honour of Noel Sheedy and of the late Dan Gallery of the Mid West Hospital Trust Fund.
BBMW are currently working from a “leaking container” that was allotted to them by a donor for storage of the specially-kitted bikes. The group also work from their homes and a portacabin at weekends in the University Maternity Hospital Limerick, where they have just a kettle and a radio.
BBMW co-director Seamus Walsh said: “We have no electricity in the container, we have no water, its just storage for the bikes mainly. We are looking for a secure premisses where we can keep the bikes during the week and where a volunteer can put down a sleeping bag and wait for their call.”
The group have said their main priority is funding as they culminate to transporting urgently needed blood products.
Further information at www.bloodbikemidwest.ie