TUK Physicians Told Not To
Tell Patients Of Possible
CJD Blood Concerns
By Louella Houldcroft
Doctors were advised to not tell patients that blood products used in transfusions were feared to have been taken from a donor infected with CJD.
A leaked memo sent to haemophilia centres by a laboratory supplying blood products orders the recall of the products because a donor was found "not to have met the current health requirements for CJD", the human form of mad cow disease.
The memo from the Bio Products Laboratory, in Hertfordshire, acting on the advice of the Lothian Ethical Committee, recommended to doctors that "Recipients (patients) should not be informed that the product that they have received has been recalled for this reason".
Haemophiliacs in the North-East already infected with HIV and Hepatitis C last night said they were "furious" about the revelation.
Since the memo was written in 1997, seven of the 85 British victims of CJD have since been identified as donors before they showed obvious symptoms of the disease.
A spokesperson for Haemophilia North, herself a partner of a co-infected haemophiliac, said: "The haemophilia population is just sick of this. These people already have up to four viruses in their bodies through treatment that has been given to them on the NHS - now we discover there is a risk of a fifth.
"How can we ever believe what we are being told?"
The letter, faxed to all haemophilia centres including the North-East branch at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, states that "BPL have initiated a recall of the following product."
It continues: "Subsequent to donation, the donor was found not to have met the current health requirements for CJD.
"The advice from the Lothian Ethical Committee is that the recipients (patients) should not be informed the product they have received has been recalled for this reason."
Jane Martin, sales and marketing director for BPL, said this was only meant as guidance for the doctors.
"Ultimately, it was the individual doctor's decision whether or not to disclose the information to the patients," she said.
"The recall was done very quickly and efficiently as soon as a risk was perceived.
"I can understand the situation from the haemophiliacs' point of view but hindsight is a wonderful thing and at the time we were acting on what was considered to be the best advice."
Yesterday it was revealed the NHS was considering banning anyone who has received blood transfusions from giving blood themselves amid rising concerns that they may knowingly pass on the fatal human variant of BSE.
Such a move could cut Britain's 1.9 million volunteer donors by up to 10pc and create such huge shortages that transfusion services would struggle to meet demand.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The whole issue of cleanliness of blood is under review.
"The eligibility of patients who have received blood transfusions is just part of that."
One of the main criticisms to come out of the recent BSE inquiry was that information was kept from the public in a bid to prevent "mass panic".
Dr Peter Hamilton, haemophilia centre director at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, said: "It seems to me that perhaps they should not have made this recommendation. It is our view patients should be told everything relating to their treatment and how it may affect them."

This Site Served by TheHostPros