Intended for healthcare professionals


Better blood transfusion

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 29 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1435

We must use donated blood better and consider alternatives

  1. Drew Provan, Senior lecturer in haematology
  1. Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, Southampton SO16 6YD

    Allogeneic blood transfusion (transfusion of blood from another individual) in the United Kingdom has never been safer from the risk of transmission of infection.1 Nevertheless, the cost of the blood transfusion service is set to rise substantially owing to the introduction of measures aimed at further increasing the safety of donated blood. A recent inquiry into errors during the process of transfusion has highlighted the need for measures to ensure safety when blood is used. Moreover, the demand for blood is outstripping supply. For all these reasons, therefore, it is time for the United Kingdom to re-examine the way blood is provided and used, reducing allogeneic transfusion where possible and seriously considering alternatives.

    The measures to increase the safety of donated blood have arisen mostly in relation to recent concerns about the theoretical risk of transmission of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. From June 1998 British plasma has been banned for fractionation, from July 1999 all plasma destined for fractionation will be subjected to nucleic acid testing for hepatitis C virus, and by November 1999 all cellular blood products will also undergo leucodepletion …

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