Federal Panel Recommends Filtering Out White Blood Cells from Donated Blood
The Department of Health and Human Services' blood-safety advisory committee voted 11-2 Friday to recommend that the FDA "mandate leukoreduction," a process that removes white blood cells, known as leukocytes, from all donated blood "as soon as feasible," the AP/Miami Herald reports. Leukocytes are "important infection fighters," but are not needed by people receiving transfusions, who need red blood cells or other blood components, and may actually cause harm in some people, inducing "post-transfusion fever and chills." Some patients with weakened immune responses, such as infants, cancer or AIDS patients, or those who require repeated transfusions, are already given leukoreduced blood. Filtering can lead to the loss of 10% of needed red cells, and because of this fact, coupled with a national blood shortage, the panel recommended a "gradual" implementation of the filtering process (Neergard, AP/Miami Herald, 1/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.