Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Contaminated blood

Just got news about contaminated blood during the 1980s. It was taken from Yahoo News. Read it please...

By Peter Griffiths Reuters - Wednesday, April 18LONDON (Reuters) - A public inquiry starts on Wednesday into the deaths of hundreds of patients infected by contaminated blood in what has been called the NHS's "worst treatment disaster".

Labour peer Lord Archer will lead the inquiry into how nearly 5,000 haemophiliacs were exposed to hepatitis C or HIV during their treatment with commercial blood plasma in the 1970s and 1980s.

Of those infected, 1,757 have died and many more are terminally ill or struggling to support themselves financially, according to the Haemophilia Society.

"The purpose of the inquiry is to unravel the facts, so far as we are able, and to point to lessons that may be learnt," Lord Archer said in his opening statement.

Haemophilia is an inherited blood disorder which prevents the blood from clotting properly, leading to uncontrolled bleeding. There are 6,000 haemophiliacs in Britain.

Since the 1970s, doctors have treated haemophiliacs with replacement plasma, the liquid part of blood, processed from a dried powder.

The powder was made in the United States, often with plasma from donors who were paid for giving blood. Some of the blood products were later found to be infected.

The inquiry will examine claims that the authorities ignored warnings about using the donated blood products, the BBC's Newsnight programme reported on Tuesday.

The BBC said it had obtained a 1983 letter from the head of Britain's public health surveillance centre warning about the risks and calling for a ban on the U.S. blood products.

Fertility expert Lord Winston has described the infection of thousands of haemophiliacs as "the worst treatment disaster in the history of the National Health Service".

The Haemophilia Society said many of those infected had suffered financial hardship and even lost their homes.

"Many more have found themselves to be uninsurable, unemployable and unable to make adequate provision for their dependants," the society's Chairman Roddy Morrison said.

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