Fear of CJD drives Britons to hoard own blood for operations

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The Independent Online
A teenager is this week due to become one of the first patients to stockpile his own blood in the light of fears that Britain's transfusion stocks could be contaminated with CJD.

Louis Wingate, 15, will have tests tomorrow and expects to give two pints of his own blood to be stored and used, should surgeons need it, when they operate on him in two weeks' time.

His parents, who wanted the blood to be taken in case a transfusion is required during Louis's abdominal operation, are among an increasing number of people opting for so-called autologous transfusions because of concerns about infections.

Until now they have failed to take off in the UK because of the high reputation of the blood transfusion service. In the US nearly 400,000 patients a year opt for them. Concern about blood-borne diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and CJD has led to increased concern in Britain about the possible contamination of stocks.

Professor John Pattison, chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, has warned that there is a significant risk that CJD could be spread by donated blood. He has called for thescreening of stocks.

Louis's parents asked for their son's own blood to be used during surgery at St George's Hospital, London. "I know it's a small risk," said his mother Netta, "but you don't want to take the smallest chance."

Bupa hospitals offer the facility for pounds 100 to pounds 200. The National Blood Authority also offers the service, but a spokeswoman said take-up has been low.

Dr John Parker-Williams, consultant haemotologist at St George's, said: "The risk of infection is very remote. The problem is that if there is a disaster during the operation theunits of blood you have given won't be enough. You will have to have a transfusion anyway."