Canadian Blood Services Recall Notice

August 23, 2013 (Ottawa)

Canadian Blood Services has issued a recall to hospitals relating to 1,500 units of blood for which one of our standard tests – for the Cytomegalovirus – was not performed according to specifications for a period of three days.

The recall is precautionary in nature. However, as an organization committed to the safety and security of the blood supply, with high quality standards, Canadian Blood Services has strict requirements for product recalls, even when the risk is remote.

Cytomegalovirus is a common community acquired infection that lies dormant in white blood cells and is harmless for most of the population. Only some patients with special needs require blood that is “CMV negative” such as low birth-weight infants, and some immune-compromised patients, including bone marrow and organ transplant patients.

There is very little risk to patients as a result of this testing error for a few reasons:

  • In addition to testing, Canadian Blood Services filters out white cells (leukoreduction) from all donated blood – and the white cells are where CMV resides. Leukoreduced blood is considered “CMV safe”.
  • More than 80% of the CMV negative products issued to hospitals come from donors who have previously tested CMV negative.
  • Tests for more serious infectious diseases were performed according to specifications and the blood in question passed these tests.

The recalled blood components were tested at our Calgary donor testing laboratory between July 30 and Aug 2, 2013. The error was discovered this week during a routine records audit.

Canadian Blood Services has been closely monitoring its national inventory to ensure this recall does not impact patient care.

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