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Particles in Donated Blood Tested

February 02, 2003|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Health officials Saturday tested white particles found in donated blood to determine what they are and where they came from, though they weren't considered to be dangerous.

Testing was being handled by the Food and Drug Administration and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Mary Malarkey, director of case management for the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Hospitals in Georgia and north Florida were exercising caution with the blood they had.

At Northside Hospital in Atlanta, all surgeries with a major risk of blood loss were canceled, said spokeswoman Katherine Watson. Patients undergoing minor surgeries were asked to sign a consent form to make sure they knew about the problem.

"We're fine right now as far as units for emergency cases," she said.

Discovery of the particles set off an American Red Cross alert and canceled elective surgeries through the weekend. Hospitals were asked to suspend use of some of its blood, but the Red Cross reported that the particles are not infectious agents and that no harmful effects in patients have been reported.

Crawford Long and Emory hospitals in Atlanta reported short supplies of noncontaminated blood, spokeswoman Debbie Bloom said.

"Our supplies for this weekend are very limited," Bloom said. "But pending a major disaster, we'll be OK."

The problem probably was with the bags and not the blood, said Chris Hrouda, the Red Cross' chief executive officer for blood services in the Southern region. Only blood in bags manufactured by Baxter International Inc. had been found to be contaminated.

But Baxter spokeswoman Tanya Tyska said the particles were not related to the manufacturing of the bags.

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