Héma-Québec addresses the quarantined blood products situation

Montréal, December 5, 2012 – On November 28, 2012, as a precautionary measure, Héma-Québec asked that Québec hospital blood banks quarantine packed red blood cells over 14 days old and collected using one of the collection devices used for its blood collection activities. The reason stated was a problem involving a microfisure on certain collection devices.

Héma-Québec has performed bacterial culture tests on a certain number of products. So far, all results are negative, and the risk of contamination is considered very low. Moreover, to date, no notice of a transfusion reaction attributable to this situation has been issued by the Québec haemovigilance system.

This said, the number of defective devices observed is such that Héma-Québec has deemed it necessary to maintain the quarantine on products over 14 days old so as to mitigate the risk of contamination, however minimal.

Héma-Québec has implemented a series of measures to remedy the problem of microfisure found on certain collection devices and to continue to ensure a sufficient supply of blood products.

The measures put in place do not imply the end of quarantining of blood products in hospitals.

These measures are the following:

1. Pressure tests on collection devices

A pressure test is performed on all targeted collection devices. This test, developed by Héma-Québec and authorized by Health Canada, ensures the integrity of the collection device in its potentially defective portion.

2. Products currently under quarantine at Héma-Québec

Health Canada has also authorized a proposal by Héma-Québec to perform an additional bacterial culture test on the packed red blood cells currently under quarantine at its Montréal and Québec City facilities. Those found to be negative will be returned to inventory and will display a label confirming their compliance.

3. Products currently under quarantine in hospital blood banks

Héma-Québec will also perform a bacterial culture test on products currently under quarantine in hospital blood banks. Only certain hospitals will be targeted by this measure.

Returning the blood supply to an optimal level

The exceptional measure taken to quarantine blood products has resulted in the collective blood supply falling below optimal levels. Héma-Québec is nevertheless able to meet the daily transfusion needs of hospitals.

Under normal circumstances, Héma-Québec must collect 1,000 blood donations per day to meet the needs of hospitals. In order to return the blood supply to an optimal level, Héma-Québec has added blood drives to collect 1,600 additional blood donations over the next three weeks.

Héma-Québec invites blood donors, and particularly individuals who have thought about donating blood, to go to a blood drive in order to help return the blood supply to an optimal level, particularly with the holiday period fast approaching.

Any healthy person aged 18 and over who meets Héma-Québec’s eligibility criteria can give blood every 56 days, or six times a year. Donors are advised to have eaten and to be well hydrated before showing up at a blood drive.

To determine your eligibility for blood donation, call 1-800-847 2525 or visit the Héma-Québec Web site at www.hema quebec.qc.ca, under Donate.

About Héma-Québec
Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood to meet the needs of all Quebecers; to provide and develop expertise along with specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.
Héma-Québec encompasses 1,300 employees, some 3,000 blood drives and more than 160,000 blood donors every year, 16,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 blood products delivered annually to Québec hospitals to meet the needs of patients.
Give blood. Give life.
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