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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
vCJD alert system shake-up plan
Image of blood for transfusion
Measures have been taken to improve the safety of blood
The way people are warned they could be infected with the human form of mad cow disease is under review, the government has announced.

The news comes after a coroner appealed to authorities for patients to get early warning they could be at risk.

John Hooper, coroner for Brighton and Hove, made his comments following criticism of the current system by the family of a man who died of vCJD.

Mark Buckland had died after receiving blood from a vCJD-infected patient.

His family alleges Mark was not made aware by doctors of the danger he was in despite already being unwell.

We have set up a Clinical Governance Advisory Group to examine this very issue
A Department of Health spokesman

Mr Buckland had received the blood during the course of an operation in 1997 from a blood donor who died from vCJD three years later.

It was not until January 2004 that Mr Buckland learned by letter that he may have vCJD.

Mr Buckland died, aged 32, in May 2006

'Preparation'

Mr Hooper said that even though there is currently no cure for vCJD, "patients should have the opportunity of appropriate assessment, advice and treatment if they wish.

"Patients and families could then prepare themselves properly," he said.

To date, there have been 156 probable or confirmed deaths from vCJD.

Four of the deceased have been confirmed as having had blood transfusions that experts believe could be linked with their vCJD.

Since 1997 a range of precautionary measures have been put in place to safeguard the blood supply against the possible risk vCJD, including the withdrawal and recall of any blood components, plasma products or tissues obtained from any individual who later develops vCJD .

A spokesman for the Department of Health said there was a desire to improve the procedures in place for managing the cases of people at risk of vCJD through blood transfusions.

"We accept that process could be improved - that is why we have set up a Clinical Governance Advisory Group to examine this very issue.

"We expect that group will make their recommendations in the Autumn."




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