Transfusion patients need safer blood tests

Blood transfusion patients suffering from Mediterranean Anemia (or Thalassemia) are complaining about delays in hospitals implementing an improved blood test for viruses as well as staff and equipment shortages at blood donation centers. Only about 30-40 percent of blood collected from donation centers is tested using nucleic acid testing (NAT), the vice president of the Federation of Thalassemia Associations, Vangelis Stoumbiadis, told a press conference. NAT can detect HIV if it has been contracted 11 days or more from when the donor gives blood as opposed to a 22-day margin of error with standard hospital blood tests. But despite ministry pledges to create nine new NAT units by last July, «transfusion patients with Thalassemia are playing Russian roulette with their lives, facing the risk of infection,» Stoumbiadis said.