Héma-Québec launches a complete blood filtration program

MONTREAL, QUEBEC, November 3, 1998 - HÉMA-QUÉBEC announced today that it is launching a blood filtration program to extract white blood cells from donated blood prior to storage. This process is called leukoreduction. The purpose is to remove most of the white cells (leucocytes) from blood used for transfusions. Platelet concentrates distributed to hospitals have been filtered since February.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC is thus responding to a directive issued on November 2, 1998, by Health Canada's Bureau of Biologics and Radiopharmaceuticals which requires leukoreduction to be implemented as soon as possible, but no later than June 30, 1999.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC had anticipated this directive and wholly endorses it. Money has already been earmarked in HÉMA-QUÉBEC's budget to commence leukoreduction prior to storage of all cellular components during the 1998-1999 fiscal year. HÉMA-QUÉBEC expects this procedure to be in place early next spring. Systematic leukoreduction of donated blood will result in fewer complications such as fever, pulmonary problems and certain post-operatory infections experienced by some blood recipients.

This practice, commonly used in Europe, is becoming increasingly more widespread in the United States. HÉMA-QUÉBEC will use new bags during the filtration process and preparation of products, prior to storage and delivery to hospitals. Current procedures will be modified to include the filtration process, and these procedures will be incorporated into HÉMA-QUÉBEC's licence with Health Canada's Bureau of Biologics and Radiopharmaceuticals.

The mission of HÉMA-QUÉBEC, a non-profit organization with no direct dependence on the government, is to provide Quebeckers with adequate quantities of superior quality and safe blood products to meet the needs of Québec hospitals, and to provide expertise and specialized services in immuno-hematology.