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Blood Transfusions

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 30 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect of testing for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in blood products on the supply of red cells, platelets and plasma in the UK; and whether his Department is assessing the merits of importing such products. (271518)

At present, there is no validated test for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) suitable for the mass screening of blood donations on the market, although the technology is under development. The UK blood services have already conducted research to assess the impact of introducing such a test on blood supply. Further research is planned to explore the potential impact of a vCJD test on the behaviour of donors and potential donors. This will assist in decision making and planning to ensure the future safety and sufficiency of the blood supply for patients.

NHS Blood and Transplant has also conducted preliminary research into whether red cells could be imported from Europe, as under European Union law all donated blood must meet the same standards of safety and quality. The independent Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, which advises the Government on matters of blood safety, will consider steps to reduce the risk of vCJD disease, including importation of red cells and fresh frozen plasma, at meetings in April and July 2009.