'We Can't Bank on Blood'
Byline: By Amanda Crook
Fears of a blood shortage prompted calls last night for new donors after the Government wiped 50,000 volunteers from the blood banks.
Health Secretary Dr John Reid announced a ban on blood donation from anyone who had received a transfusion since January 1980.
The move follows the death earlier this year of a patient from vCJD, the human version of BSE, after receiving blood years earlier from a donor who contracted the disease.
Dr Reid admitted this would exclude 52,000 donors and "inevitably lead to a reduction in the supply of blood available for transfusions".
At least 1.7 million regular blood donors are needed in the UK to make sure stocks do not run down. Some 9,000 pints are needed every day.
The ban will exclude an estimated 3.2pc of current donors. Last night, a spokeswoman for the National Blood Service said stocks were currently healthy and it was too early to say if there would be a shortage. "To try to prevent problems we are encouraging existing donors to give regularly and encourage those that can't to encourage others who can.
"We also import fresh frozen plasma from the US for patients born on or after 1st January 1996."
Peter Longstaff, 45, of Jesmond, Newcastle, learned in 2001 that in his treatment for haemophilia he had been exposed 11 times to blood from donors who have since died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
His partner Carol Grayson, 43, a former nurse said: "Any measure to make blood safer is welcome, of course, and this move should have come in a long time ago." But she added: "I worry that this ban will mean the use of more American plasma products in this country and I am not convinced about their safety precautions. I don't think people in this country can have confidence in our blood products until we have a full and open public inquiry into all blood safety issues."
Frances Hall, of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, whose son Peter was one of the first victims of variant CJD and died aged 20 five years ago, is now secretary of campaign group the Human BSE Foundation. She said: "Any precautions in place obviously have our approval because there isn't a test for vCJD. …