Intended for healthcare professionals


Changes in blood supplies, regulations, and transfusion practice

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 03 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:268
  1. J Adrian Copplestone, consultant haematologist (
  1. Derriford Hospital, Plymouth PL6 8DH

    Clinicians need to prepare for shortages now

    In the United Kingdom, we have come to take for granted the supply of blood for transfusion. Changes that might reduce the supply of blood are afoot and are going to affect all clinicians who use blood and blood products. We need to act now to decrease our dependence or we will be faced with deciding which patient is going to get the remaining bag of blood in the blood fridge—with all the clinical and ethical problems that will ensue. I outline why blood shortages may occur and describe some simple methods to avoid the use of donor blood.

    A second possible case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) transmitted by transfusion has been reported,1 leading to further tightening of the exclusion of blood donors who may have had a transfusion since 1980. These restrictions have reduced the number of donors and total number of red cell donations. This comes on top of a general trend of falling numbers of donors.2 The Department of Health has recently circulated a plan for the management of shortages in case blood supplies run low.3 Hospitals will need …

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