Bill 438 Passed: On September 1, 1998 Héma-Québec will become Quebecker's blood agency

VILLE ST. LAURENT, QUEBEC, June 22, 1998 - In passing Bill 438, the Québec National Assembly has confirmed HÉMA-QUÉBEC's status as Quebeckers' blood supplier. Beginning September 1, 1998, HÉMA-QUÉBEC will provide the people of the province with blood and blood products. It will be in charge of recruiting donors, organizing blood donor clinics, as well as analysing and preparing blood products, and delivering them to Québec hospitals.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC is part of the new blood management system, which dovetails smoothly into the Québec health care system. This new tripartite structure is founded on a clear, precise sharing of responsibilities.

"The important thing to remember about Québec's new blood management system is that the various responsibilities are clearly defined and divided up. As a blood supplier, HÉMA-QUÉBEC will, as of September 1, 1998, become accountable for the quality of blood and blood products in the province. Hospitals will be responsible for the quality and safety of blood transfusions. The Hemovigilance Commitee (also created by Bill 438) will advise the Minister of Health and Social Services of the risks associated with blood transfusions, since the minister is responsible for public health," says Dr. Francine Décary, Executive Director of HÉMA-QUÉBEC.

Transition Period
HÉMA-QUÉBEC is working closely with the Red Cross and Canadian Blood Services (which will supply blood in the rest of Canada) to settle the details of transferring the blood system. HÉMA-QUÉBEC and Canadian Blood Services will have to meet the same blood safety standards, which are set by Health Canada's Bureau of Biologics and Radiopharmaceuticals, and will exchange data on high-risk donors. Agreements in this regard are being finalized, as are agreements for the exchange of blood products should the need arise.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC is at present governed by an interim board of directors, chaired by Claude Pichette, that is busy setting up the corporation. Over the summer, the board will become fully representative of all the players in the "transfusion chain," from donors to recipients, including the physicians who oversee the transfusions, hospital administrators, and blood donor clinic organizers.

The Importance of Giving Blood
Until HÉMA-QUÉBEC begins operations on September 1, 1998, the Québec Region Blood Services team of the Red Cross will continue to organize blood donor clinics and deliver blood and blood products to hospitals.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC encourages Quebeckers to give blood during the summer, a time when the reserves in our blood banks often hit a low. A blood donation can save four lives, and in Québec, someone needs blood every 80 seconds!