Canadian Blood Services resumed taking blood donations in Regina on Saturday following a one-day halt while the agency reminded staff about screening procedures.

On Friday CBS revealed it had recalled thousands of units of blood products that originated from Regina donors, because some screening questions had not been posed to the donors. All of the donated blood has been tested and there were no problems with those tests.

The organization said it has a policy to recall stock when any of its procedures are not followed.

"We have to be able to say that we are completely sure — to the extent we possibly can be — that we are following our processes correctly," Dana Devine, vice-president of medical affairs for CBS, said Saturday. "We put those processes in place to maximize blood safety."

According to the officials, about 8,000 blood products were recalled from 148 hospitals across the country, including 50 in Saskatchewan.

The products — red blood cells, plasma and platelets — were linked to donations in Regina over the last year, where some lifestyle questions were not posed on a consistent basis.

 

'We're not concerned there's risk to the recipients from the product.'—Dana Devine, Canadian Blood Services

The oversight was noticed on Monday and the hospitals were notified on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We had a lot of hospitals to contact," Devine said when asked why the public was not informed until Friday. "We were kind of focused on getting that information out, rather than going with a public-wide media release at that point."

While the blood donations were collected over the course of 12 months, the processing of the blood into different products allows hospitals to store and use them for some time. Platelets can be used for days, red blood cells can be used up to six weeks and frozen plasma can be used up to one year after a donation.

Most of the products that were recalled were units of plasma.

No risk to patients, official says

Devine said any patients who already received blood from the affected products should not worry, because all the donations were tested.

"We're not concerned there's risk to the recipients from the product," Devine said.

The lifestyle questions that were missed dealt with high-risk behaviours, including one that asked about sexual partners: 'If you're a man have you ever had sex with another man, even once, since 1977?'

"We actually verbally go back with the screening nurse and the screening nurse specifically asks those questions over again," Devine said. "And there were some errors being made in some of the screening processes in the Regina centre related to the verbal asking of those questions."

Devine added that the organization encourages staff to be up-front about procedures.

"We seek to encourage our employees to come forward when they find that there are any errors that have been made in any of our processes so we can look at those processes to try to improve them," she said.

She said that the organization is coping with the drop in supplies caused by the recall, but said they could use more donors over the next few weeks so they can restock.

Donors return

Dave Lang was at the reopened Regina clinic Saturday to donate.

"It's kind of sad that all that blood is wasted when they do need it. But, I mean, it happens. It's better to be safe than sorry, I guess and they caught it in time. It's not like the beef problem," Lang said, referring to the huge recall currently underway across the country.

Lang said news of the recall won't deter him from continuing to donate regularly.

CBS said it has gone over its processes with all staff and all questions will be asked from now on. 

 

With files from CBC's Sheryl Rennie