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Armed Forces: Blood

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will use pathogen inactivation for blood products to be supplied for UK forces personnel. (225938)

Pathogen inactivation (PI) is a process designed to eliminate pathogens—i.e. viruses, bacteria and fungi—from water, air or donated blood. The majority of the blood held in-theatre by the Defence Medical Services (DMS) is supplied by the UK National Blood Services (NBS), which does not routinely carry out PI on its blood products. However, we understand that the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO, an independent non-departmental public body) will be undertaking a comprehensive review of pathogen inactivation for blood products in 2009, which will inform decisions on its use in the UK. It would not be practical for the DMS to introduce its own discrete in-theatre PI capability, in view of the complexity of the current technology and the infrequency with which it would be required.