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The BBC's Richard Hannaford
"All haemophiliacs are being urged to contact their clinicians"
 real 56k

Lord Morris of Manchester
"This is devastating for people with haemophilia"
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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 07:41 GMT
Haemophiliacs face vCJD scare
plasma donor
UK plasma is no longer used to make blood products
Doctors are trying to trace NHS haemophiliacs who may have been exposed to blood plasma from a donor later found to have been infected with vCJD - the human form of mad cow disease.

Counselling has been arranged for patients and their families, while efforts are made to establish whether they received the infected treatment.

The Department of Health says there is no evidence that vCJD has ever been transmitted through blood or blood products and any link is theoretical.

But haemophiliacs concerned they may have received affected blood are advised to contact their GP.

This has come as a devastating shock to the haemophiliac community

Lord Morris

News that plasma from a blood donor later found to have been infected with vCJD had been used in the manufacture of clotting factor to treat NHS haemophilia patients emerged on Monday night in the House of Lords.

Labour peer Lord Morris, honorary president of the Haemophilia Society, asked how many people may have been affected and what services had been offered to patients.

Junior health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, in a written Parliamentary reply, said there was no centrally held information on the number of haemophiliacs who received clotting factor made from plasma donated by the donor.

"Haemophilia Centre Directors were notified in December 2000 of the batch numbers of the clotting factor and are in the process of identifying the recipients from their patient records." he said.

"The UK Haemophilia Doctors Association, in consultation with the Department of Health, has agreed a policy of giving all haemophilia patients information about the incident and offering them a choice to know if they or their children received the implicated clotting factor."

Serious implications

Lord Morris of Manchester
Lord Morris of Manchester
Lord Morris said the society would be discussing the minister's reply urgently.

"This has come as a devastating shock to the haemophiliac community who have already been stricken by HIV and Hepatitis C infection in the course of NHS treatment," he said.

"No-one seems to know how many people may be affected, but the society is doing all it can to counsel families that have cause to believe they were affected."

He said the government's decision to ask an expert panel to consider "as a matter of urgency" how such incidents should be managed, showed the implications could be serious.

Lord Hunt said that in 1998 the government stopped using UK plasma in the manufacture of blood products as a precautionary measure against the theoretical risk that vCJD could be transmitted in this way.

Tiny percentage

The Haemophilia Society has told its members that the donated plasma would have been used in 1996 and 1997 before the 1998 crackdown, when the government also required the company involved, Bio Products Laboratory, to source plasma from the USA and not the UK.

A spokesman said: "The company has stated that this particular donor's plasma has gone into a tiny percentage of the products distributed before 1998.

"There have been no reported cases of vCJD among the haemophilia community."

A Department of Health spokesman stressed that the department itself was not involved in trying to trace those who might have been affected.

"The laboratory which produced this batch of blood products is informing doctors of the batch numbers involved so they can trace patients who will have received blood products from that batch," he said.

"There is no simple test for CJD and no treatment for the disease."

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