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Donated Blood Quarantine Expanded To Tenn.

Initial Tests of Georgia Blood Negative For Infectious Agents

Feb 3, 2003 | CNN

Hospitals within three hours of Nashville were advised Sunday by the regional American Red Cross to quarantine all blood in bags manufactured by Baxter. The warning covers about 1,200 units.

This expands the quarantine started late last week in Georgia and northern Florida after the Red Cross found white specks in some donated blood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the first set of tests on the Georgia blood was negative for infectious agents. Tests currently under way for non-biological material may be completed Monday.

Patricia Smith, communications manager for the Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region, said workers there began a visual investigation Friday "after learning that the Southern Region had found a particulate in their blood banks, and we found 10 units with particulate."

She said the substance in the blood is easy to see and "looks like granulated sugar of different sizes." The decision to implement the quarantine was made after speaking with the national office of the American Red Cross in Washington and the CDC in Atlanta.

No problems have been found with blood in bags made by other manufacturers, Smith said.

Baxter has not returned calls since Friday, when a representative told CNN the company was "collecting information." The American Red Cross believes the contamination will be traced to the bags.

So far there have been no reports of adverse reactions resulting from the contaminated blood, but Smith emphasized that it is not known if any patients received that blood.

There have been no reports of surgeries in Tennessee being canceled because of the quarantine. Blood is being imported to replace the quarantined units. Ninety-nine units were received from Detroit on Sunday and three more shipments from Illinois, Maine, and Wisconsin were scheduled to arrive Monday. In addition, donation hours in the area have been extended through Wednesday.

Clinton Colmenares, spokesman at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, said the blood supply there is adequate and that the facility has not postponed any surgeries.

The Red Cross Blood Services Southern Region reported a 25 percent increase in donations over the weekend after hospitals in Georgia were urged not to use the contaminated blood Thursday and many elective surgeries were canceled. That region received 2,600 units of blood from across the country over the weekend, according to Marcy Blount in the Southern Region office.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday it is involved in an "evolving situation and an on-going investigation."

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