A blood bag tested after a patient became seriously ill after a transfusion, was infected with a blood-poisoning microbe, it was revealed yesterday.
Scientists at the Oxford Blood Transfusion Centre said they had found evidence of the bacterium in the Tuta bag, one of thousands which had to be withdrawn after a faulty seal was identified in some of the bags.
However, the National Blood Authority said last night that there was no evidence "at this stage" to suggest that the contamination was due to the faulty seal. Further tests are to be carried out by the Public Health Laboratory Service in London.
But tests at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon, where the patient Stephen Clegg, 31, was treated earlier this month, had previously shown that the donor blood given to Mr Clegg was not infected, according to a spokesman. An investigation had also shown that the hospital procedures and its environment were "squeaky clean".
The hospital has criticised the NBA and Oxford Blood Transfusion Service for what it claims was confusing advice on testing the Tuta bags for leakage, and withdrawal of suspect bags. This led to Mr Clegg, a father of three, being given blood from a "high-risk" batch after an operation on his spine. He developed septicaemia and was in intensive care. His condition has since improved. Lawyers expect him to take legal action.