The message was sent out at 4:06 pm on a Friday to staff at Canadian Blood Services. Described as a “developing situation,” Chief Operating Officer Ian Mumford told workers that the previous night the agency issued a recall of 1,500 units of blood used mostly by low birth weight infants and immune compromised patients.
The accompanying press release was posted on CBS’ website, but not on the news release service the agency normally employs.
The recall is the second at Canadian Blood Services within a year, the previous taking place in October when it was revealed donors in Regina had not be subject to all the normal precautionary screening questions. That resulted in a recall of blood donations going back 12 months.
This time it was the Calgary donor testing laboratory that had failed to do routine testing for cytomegalovirus (CMV) – a type of herpes virus. The lapse in testing took place between July 30 and August 2.
According to Wikipedia, this CMV “infection is typically unnoticed in healthy people, but can be life-threatening for the immunocompromised, such as HIV-infected persons, organ transplant recipients, or new-born infants.” That is the target group for the blood product under recall.
CBS says they still have 250 units, which will be relabeled and sent out for general use. and that there are about 400 units remaining on hospital shelves which will be subject to the recall. The rest have either been already used or, according to Mumford, are outdated.