Héma-Québec launches a complete blood filtration program

MONTRÉAL, June 14, 1999 - 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 (leukocytes) from blood used for transfusions.

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 no later than June 30, 1999. Platelet concentrates distributed to hospitals have been filtered since February 1998.

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. Blood preparation procedures have been modified to include the filtration process, and these procedures have been incorporated into HÉMA-QUÉBEC's licence with Health Canada's Bureau of Biologics and Radiopharmaceuticals. These modifications received the necessary approval last week.

HEMA-QUEBEC's mission is to provide Quebeckers with sufficient quantities of safe, top-quality blood components, derivatives and substitutes to meet the needs of hospitals, and to provide recognized expertise and specialized services in the field of immunohematology.