If the Irish Blood Transfusion Service wanted ambassadors for the call for more blood donors, then they would surely have had a number of candidates at their recent presentation night in the Raddison Blu Hotel, Letterkenny.
The night was held to honour donors who had given 50 donations of blood and among the donors were three well known Donegal sportsmen - Pauric McKinney, Ed Moore and Paddy Melaugh.
Pauric McKinney is a very well known athlete, who is still competing at the very highest level, even though he reached the age of 50 last year. His times for 5k (15.31), 10k (32.07) and 2.30.00 for the Berlin Marathon last year are world class.
Yet he is as passionate about giving blood as he is about athletics.
"I gave my first blood donation while at college and I have continued doing so since. I just feel that is something that I should do and a responsibility.
"I got involved in athletics at a very young age and I have remained active. I have turned 50 now but I feel I am still competing as well as ever," said McKinney, who is very proud of the fact that he won the Donegal Senior Cross-Country last year.
"I want to assure all athletes that giving blood is not detrimental to performing as an athlete. The only advice I would give is that it would not be advisable to give a donation immediately prior to competing at a high level," said McKinney, who said he had just one bad experience in that regard.
"I got a call from Herbie (Brendan McDaid) once and he wanted me for a team for the short-course cross-country. I had been running the long-course but the team (Letterkenny AC) were short and I agreed to go. I had given blood on the Wednesday and it was probably one of my worst performances ever," said McKinney.
However, there is an upside to giving blood also for the talented athlete, who feels that he gets a boost after donating.
"I don't know if it is personal, but about 21 days after giving blood I find that I get a boost and can perform very well.
“I don't know if it is the same for other athletes, but for me it certainly gives a boost."
McKinney's enthusiasm for giving blood is also predicated on the fact that his blood group is one of the rare ones. "My blood group is only five per cent of the population and that has been a motivating factor. I usually like to donate at least three times a year and if the time doesn't fit in when the mobile unit visits my area in Buncrana, I sometimes go on to their website and find a clinic in other parts of Donegal.
“That could be in Letterkenny, Ballybofey, Donegal or somewhere."
He also feels that his fellow athletes could become blood donors.
"My sport has a high volume of people who are very active over a long number of years and they would fit well into the group of people who could become donors.
"I would encourage them to think about donating and for those who may have donated in the past and given up, I would encourage them to start once more. Listening to Professor Baines at the presentation in Letterkenny recently, the need for 2,000 donations each week is very important," said McKinney, who has given 54 donations.
Asked if he would like to reach 100 donations, he says he doesn't have any target, just to keep donating as long as he is able.
Ed Moore, a long-time soccer referee, has also given 54 blood donations, but can't really remember when he gave his first.
"I had been donating but then I fell out for eight or nine years and, like everything else, I went back, and I haven't missed any since," said Moore, who, like McKinney, says that donating has not been any hindrance to his sporting career.
After listening to the personal accounts of the need for blood donations at the presentation of 50+ plus pins, Moore said you could not but be impressed. He also said he had first hand knowledge of accidents and as a soccer referee, you can witness accidents on the playing fields that could necessitate blood transfusions.
"Blood donations come from all sections of the community and you see that when you are in giving donations. Anyone can give blood and it is very important.
"I have seen many serious accidents, including one very serious accident outside Letterkenny and it is something that stays with me. I have talked to fellow referees about giving blood and some of them have started, including Paddy Melaugh, who is at the presentation tonight; he has given 50 donations as well," said Moore, who says that he has travelled all parts of Donegal in his role as referee.
"I have met so many good people in my role," said Moore, who said he played a lot of hockey in his younger days.
No doubt both McKinney and Moore will inspire more sportsmen to think about becoming a blood donor. They certainly are a good advertisement for the Blood Transfusion Service and having topped the milestone of 50 donations, they are an example to everyone in the county.