Blood donations clampdown follows vCJD scare

Blood donation restrictions were tightened today after warnings in Britain that vCJD can be transmitted through transfusions.

Blood donation restrictions were tightened today after warnings in Britain that vCJD can be transmitted through transfusions.

Anyone who lived in Britain for more than one year between 1980 and 1996 will not be able to give blood from November.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) said the move was part of a series of measures designed to ensure patients in Ireland are subjected to minimal risk of contracting the disease.

Dr Joan Riordan said: “We are pretty confident the steps we are taking will ensure people here are not affected. There is a negligible risk but Ireland is exposed to only 0.5% of the British exposure to vCJD.”

Thousands of patients in Britain have been warned they may have been exposed to vCJD through blood plasma products. The Department of Health said more than 6,000 people would receive letters explaining the situation and to help minimise the possibility of passing on the brain-wasting disease.

The IBTS said Ireland did not import any of the infected batches and would not be affected by the revelations.

The National Haemophilia Council (NHC) moved immediately to reassure Irish patients there was little chance they could have been exposed to the brain-wasting disease.

It said very few products from UK plasma for the treatment of haemophilia were used in Ireland between 1980 and 2001 and that any batches which could be implicated in the future would be checked.

However, it warned there may be people with haemophilia living in Ireland who received treatment in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 2001.

For those, standard recommendations from the National Disease Surveillance Centre will be implemented. These are limited to specific types of surgery including surgery on brain, eye or lymphoid tissue.

Everyone with haemophilia in Ireland will be notified of the situation by the NHC and the National Centre for Hereditary Coagulation Disorders (NCHCD).

Brian O Mahony of the NHC, said: “This is a further issue of concern for a community which in the past has been devastated by HIV and Hepatitis C.

“Fortunately, these specific products were not used in Ireland and we hope that the timely information and support available from the National Centre and the Irish Haemophilia Society will greatly assist any person with Haemophilia who received treatment in the UK.”

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