Campaigning mother's blood screen demand

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Portsmouth teenager killed in knife fight

A mother who lost her son to the human strain of mad cow disease is demanding all donated blood is screened for the disease.

Christine Lord watched her 24-year-old son Andrew die from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in 2007.

She has now joined other relatives of victims of the disease to call on the government to introduce blood screening to stop vCJD spreading through blood donations and medical procedures.

Mrs Lord from Southsea will attend a Sabto (Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs) meeting in London tomorrow along with other families.

Sabto is a committee of medical, scientific and health experts who advise the government on safety issues regarding blood, cells, tissues, transplantation and transfusion.

Mrs Lord, 52, said: 'We're going to this meeting to voice our concerns about the current blood donor system and we really hope Sabto will put pressure on the Department of Health to make changes.

'People can carry the vCJD virus and pass it on through their blood.

'So if a carrier donates blood, vCJD can then be passed on to someone else through a blood transfusion or operation, and the recipient might end up being affected by the disease.

'I want to do anything to stop other mothers having to watch their children die like I had to.'

Scientists estimate one in 1,000 people could be carriers of vCJD, many of whom could be regular blood donors. There are cases of people having died of vCJD who had donated blood before their diagnosis.

And Mrs Lord claims there are cases now of people dying of the disease who have previously had blood transfusions.

Mrs Lord said: 'There is a blood screening test available which has already been used in France. But for some reason the Department of Health is delaying implementing it here.

'I think they're stalling because they're scared of finding out just how many people are carrying it.'

But a spokesman for the Department of Health said: 'There is currently no validated diagnostic test that can be used before the onset of clinical symptoms to diagnose whether someone has contracted vCJD.

'We are aware that commercial companies are developing blood tests for vCJD but it is unclear when, or if, these tests will become available.

'Experts have advised that marketed tests should not be used until they have been rigorously validated to minimise the number of incorrect results.'

Anyone affected by vCJD or who would like to discuss the disease with Mrs Lord can contact her through justiceforandy.commschristinelord@aol.com

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