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Red Cross Recalls Blood in Effort to Ease Public Doubts

Times Staff Writer

American Red Cross officials said Thursday that they have asked for the recall of 1,400 units of blood and blood components because of the failure of local blood centers to follow federal guidelines in evaluating results from tests for the AIDS virus and hepatitis B.

The units in question--out of 3 million blood products donated in the last three years in Los Angeles and Orange counties--were sent to an estimated 135 hospitals in the area over that period of time, said Dr. Steven Kleinman, director of Red Cross blood services for the two counties.

The recall was ordered after the federal Food and Drug Administration agreed with local Red Cross officials that it was necessary to allay any public apprehension over the blood units in question, Kleinman said.

Removing Doubt

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“We can remove any shadow of doubt in the public’s mind by doing this,” he said.

Since the blood was sent to hospitals over a three-year period, beginning in September, 1985, much of it already has been used. But to date, no problems have occurred because of usage of those units, or pints, of blood, Kleinman said.

In addition, 10 unused units that were retrieved have been retested and the results showed no hints of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome virus, or of hepatitis B, he said.

Also, 80 of the 200 donors who gave the 1,400 blood units--all residents of Los Angeles and Orange counties--have been tested for AIDS and hepatitis B and the results were negative, Kleinman said.

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Misinterpreted Guidelines

According to FDA guidelines, blood that tests positive after its initial screening must be discarded. However, local blood centers misinterpreted those guidelines and tested those units shown to be possibly tainted with the AIDS virus or hepatitis B.

If additional tests proved negative, the blood units were sent to hospitals and other facilities for possible use, officials said.

Kleinman said misapplication of FDA guidelines occurred at three other Red Cross blood centers in the United States and in each case, the subsequent recall showed that no tainted blood was accidentally passed on.


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