Sunday 23 September 2018

Blood bank sells surplus plasma to raise €800,000

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE blood bank is to break with tradition and sell part of surplus stock to commercial companies for the first time in a bid to generate €800,000 a year for the service.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has confirmed its plans to sell its surplus of blood component plasma. It has received ethical approval for the process.

Blood banks are based on voluntary donations by the public. Any move to sell -- even components of blood -- is regarded as a major departure.

It comes in the wake of the public appeal for blood donations by the IBTS over the weekend which led to more than 1,000 people attending clinics, averting a threatened shortage.

Plasma surrounds our blood cells and transports them around the body but since 2001 the IBTS no longer uses it for therapeutic purposes, except for liver transplantation.

"The rest of the plasma, which is a by-product of the donation process, is disposed of through incineration," said the spokesperson.

She said the IBTS carried out donor research on the use of plasma for commercial use last year and the response of donors supporting the use of plasma in this way was "overwhelming".

Information on the new arrangements for the use of plasma has been incorporated into its donor information pack.

"The unused plasma will be provided to two companies operating in Ireland that require it for the production of control tests to validate diagnostic equipment.

"Stringent restrictions will be incorporated into the contract with both companies for the use of the plasma and it will not be used in the manufacture of any therapeutic, cosmetic or veterinary products, or human or animal vaccines."


The IBTS said the cost of disposing the unused plasma through incineration is about €140,000 a year.

The IBTS stopped using plasma from Irish donors and started sourcing supplies from abroad because of because of a small, unconfirmed risk that variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) -- the human form of mad cow disease -- may be transmitted in certain types of plasma products.

Over half of our blood consists of a yellow liquid called plasma. It plays a very important role in providing fluid storage for the body, maintaining blood pressure and preventing blood vessels from collapsing.

It also helps to cool and warm the body. Plasma is made up mainly of water. It contains proteins such as albumin, which is beneficial to people with severe burns or those who have experienced substantial loss of blood.

It also has clotting substances, which help to control bleeding, and antibodies, which aid in fighting infection.

Irish Independent

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