Science, technology & health news
NZ blood service considers UK ban
Wellington, July 6 - New Zealanders who have visited Britain are continuing
to give blood
while health officials weigh the risk that they could transmit the human
equivalent of mad cow
Five weeks ago United States scientists recommended banning blood donations
who had been to Britain since 1980.
The New Zealand Blood Service said it was doing everything possible to
protect people who
needed blood transfusions and plasma products, but remained unsure whether
risk justified a ban.
A sweeping ban could seriously reduce blood supplies. Studies during the
past month showed
about 12 percent of donors had spent three months or more in the United
Blood Service medical director Peter Flanagan said today he wanted to see
what bans United
States and Canada imposed before deciding what to do.
"The absence of clarity from the key players is a frustration. The United
States and Canada
have surprisingly not gone public and I believe that reflects significant
The Blood Service was continuing to survey New Zealand donors to work out
bans would have.
"At this stage we aren't simply saying we will copy what the United States
and Canada decide.
We have a responsibility to ensure that we continue to provide a safe and
supply," he said.
New Zealanders donated 170,000 units of blood a year, which was just meeting
the needs for
plasma products of people with immune deficiencies and haemophilia.
United States researchers suspected people who had eaten contaminated
British beef could
develop a variant creutzfeldt-jakob disease and transmit it to others who
received their blood.
NZPA DOM lb06/07/99 18-13NZ © New Zealand Press Association
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