Public Release: 

Research supports World Blood Donor Day message on blood safety

Economic & Social Research Council

Other countries could learn from the mistakes made in UK blood policy concludes research awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council's Michael Young Prize.

Carol Grayson's research supports the message from the World Health Organisation, Red Cross and Red Crescent on World Blood Donor Day (14th June) for 100% of global blood donations to be unpaid contributions. This places a renewed emphasis on improving the safety of blood and forms the foundation of a sustainable national blood supply which could be adopted in every country throughout the world.

The award-winning research stresses the importance of an open and safe blood policy for all countries to cut the risk of patients contracting other blood borne infections which scientists conclude is not a question of "if" a new virus emerges but "when".

Carol's study found that successive governments' failed to honour the commitment of former Health Minister (Lord) David Owen in the 1970s to achieve self-sufficiency in UK blood products. Although the UK did not pay its donors it bought blood products from America that came from virally 'high-risk' donors from prisons and from blood collection centres where sick and homeless people often sold their blood. These paid donors where more at risk of having HIV and Hepatitis C. Their blood was manufactured into factor concentrates which were then given to haemophiliacs in the UK as part of their NHS treatment.

Haemophiliacs have been hugely affected by the contamination of blood products with 4,700 infected with HIV and/or hepatitis viruses. Almost 2,000 haemophiliacs have since died or are terminally ill.

The impacts are still being felt by the haemophilia community today. Carol's research formed part of the evidence submitted to the Archer Independent Public Inquiry into contaminated blood which was privately funded. "The problem with a "blood for money" system is that it attracts those individuals that are less concerned about their own health or suitability as donors because their focus is on the financial reward."

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
ESRC Press Office:
Saskia Walcott (Tel: 01793 413149, email: saskia.walcott@esrc.ac.uk)
Danielle Moore (Tel: 01793 413122, email: danielle.moore@esrc.ac.uk )
Jeanine Woolley (Tel: 01793 413119, email: jeanine.woolley@esrc.ac.uk )

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1.The call for the Michael Young Prize 2010 is now open the call will close July 31st 2009. For more information please visit the Michael Young Prize pages, or contact Jeanine Woolley via email: michaelyoungprize@esrc.ac.uk

2.The Michael Young Prize promotes excellence in the social sciences by rewarding the very best early career researchers whose research has the potential to make a positive and far-reaching impact beyond academia. Now in its third year, the prize was set up in honour of the late Lord Michael Young of Darlington by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Young Foundation to encourage early career social science researchers to effectively communicate their socially relevant research to a non-academic audience. http://www.esrc.ac.uk/young

3.Haemophilia is a hereditary blood condition where the clotting agent is very low or it is not present, about 6,000 people in the UK are affected. The disorder still has no cure but suffers can be helped with regular injections of a clotting concentrate from human blood plasma and more recently a synthetic clotting product called recombinant.

4.The research critiqued a government report "Self-sufficiency in Blood Products in England and Wales: A Chronology From 1973 to 1991" released by the Department of Health in 2006. The research also looked at the social, psychological and economic impact of viruses on the haemophilia community by analysing questionnaires sent to haemophiliacs and their partners. Carol Grayson's full report BLOOD FLOWS NOT JUST THROUGH OUR VEINS BUT THROUGH OUR MINDS. HOW HAS THE GLOBAL POLITICS OF BLOOD IMPACTED ON THE UK HAEMOPHILIA COMMUNITY?

5.Figures sourced from The Archer Inquiry an independent public inquiry on NHS supplied contaminated blood and blood products.

6.The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk

7.The Young Foundation was founded in 2005, formed from the merger of the Institute of Community Studies and the Mutual Aid Centre. The foundation is a centre for social innovation identifying and understanding unmet social needs and developing practical initiatives to address them. The foundation works in many fields - including health, education, housing and cities and bringing together research and action, including the creation of new enterprises. The Young Foundation has been established to re-energise this powerful combination of research and practical action.

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