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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 10:30 GMT
CJD fears may lead to donor 'block'
Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm said some donations may be stopped
People who have had blood transfusions could be stopped from donating blood amid fears of spreading variant CJD.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm told MSPs he had asked the National Blood Transfusion Service to assess the implications of such a move.

It comes after it emerged that two people in Scotland received blood transfusions from a person who was later diagnosed with vCJD.

Neither of them has shown any signs of the human form of mad cow disease.

If I needed a transfusion, I would want it - and if I did not need to have a transfusion, I would not want to have one
Dr Brian McClelland
Addressing MSPs, Mr Chisholm said the two people would be given help and advice and the opportunity to discuss the risks with a counsellor.

UK Health Secretary John Reid said on Wednesday that a patient who received donor blood during an operation in 1997 developed variant CJD and died six years later.

The blood was taken long before the donor was diagnosed with the brain-wasting disease.

He said 15 people throughout the UK had received blood donations from people who have gone on to develop vCJD.

NHS helpline

Mr Chisholm said: "We have been concerned to ensure that people who may be worried about the implications of this incident are given appropriate advice.

"The NHS helpline has therefore been briefed with relevant information and the chief medical officer has written to health professionals updating them on the present situation.

"We will take any further appropriate steps to inform and reassure people who remain concerned."

Consultant Dr Brian McClelland, of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, said both the cases in Scotland had received blood products from a single donor who subsequently developed the disease.

Arm
The disease was contracted from a blood transfusion

But he was unable to say whether that donor had since died of the disease.

"I don't have that information," he said.

"We have to give top priority to looking after the confidentiality and rights of the individuals involved," he added.

Dr McLelland said everything was being done to identify any possible links between cases of vCJD and transfusions.

And he said there was no cause for increased public concern.

"If it was me going into hospital tomorrow, or my daughter going into hospital tomorrow to have a baby, and we needed a transfusion, I would expect the doctor to make exactly the same decision tomorrow as yesterday," he said.

"If I needed a transfusion, I would want it - and if I did not need to have a transfusion, I would not want to have one."

Scottish Tory health spokesman David Davidson said: "It's very important that we reassure the people of Scotland that we do have an excellent service and we must maintain the confidence and take the measures necessary."

So far, 143 cases of vCJD have been diagnosed in the UK, although the numbers of new cases are falling.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"A patient died from the disease after receiving a blood transfusion"


The BBC's Tessa Duggleby
"The Health Secretary said nothing that had been said should put people off giving blood"



SEE ALSO:
Concern over CJD blood donor
28 Nov 02  |  Scotland
Tests suggest CJD blood risk
03 Aug 02  |  Health


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