Blood Transfusion Service denies sending confused message to public
The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has denied sending contradictory messages to the public by using a celebrity to promote a 'give blood' campaign who is disqualified from donating blood.
Mark Feehily, a member of the boyband Westlife, featured in a campaign in 2004 urging members of the public to donate blood to the IBTS. He subsequently announced that he was gay, and is soon to marry his boyfriend, Kevin McDaid, also a pop star.
Under regulations set out by the IBTS, practicising homosexuals are forbidden from donating blood as they are deemed too "high risk"in terms of diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS.
The IBTS denied that using Feehily would send confusing messages to the public, or that it was any cause for embarrassment. "It is not necessary to be a donor to encourage others to give blood," said a spokesperson.
"We are grateful to the many celebrities and high profile people who have endorsed our blood awareness campaigns over the years, such as Sharon Ní Bheoláin, Westlife, Ian Dempsey, Ray Darcy, Ireland soccer squad manager Brian Kerr and members of Irish soccer, rugby and GAA teams who give generously of their time to encourage others to give the gift of life."