Chagas Disease - Héma-Québec implements a new measure to ensure the safety of the blood product supply

    MONTREAL, May 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Since March 29, 2009, blood donors have
had to meet a new blood donor eligibility criterion regarding Chagas disease,
an infectious illness rife in Mexico and in Central and South America(*), that
can be transmitted through blood transfusion.
    Now, to preserve the safety of the blood product supply, a blood sample
from donors who have spent over one month in an endemic country(*)
( will be
given a screening test for Chagas disease. This is also the case for donors
born in one of these countries or whose mother or maternal grandmother was
born there.
    To identify individuals likely to present a risk for this disease, three
new questions have been added to the record of donation. Héma-Québec estimates
that fewer than 3% of donors will be affected by this new measure and that its
implementation will not impact the blood reserve.
    "The safety of the blood product supply in Quebec is a priority at all
times, which is why we are closely monitoring the emergence of new blood-borne
diseases and do not hesitate to apply the necessary precautions in the aim of
ensuring that our blood products are safe", stated Dr. Francine Décary,
President and Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec.
    Chagas disease is mainly transmitted by an insect bite. Antiparisitic
treatment can combat this disease which, if untreated, can lead to serious
long-term complications. More detailed information is available on the
Héma-Québec website, under the heading Donor Qualification in the Blood
Donation section.

    (*) The countries targeted by the blood donation eligibility criterion
    concerning Chagas disease are: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile,
    Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua,
    Panama, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.

    About Héma-Québec

    Héma-Québec aims to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe,
optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood to meet
the needs of all Quebecers; provide and develop expertise along with
specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of transfusion
medicine and human tissue transplantation.
    Héma-Québec is 1,300 employees, some 2,000 blood drives and more than
300,000 blood donors every year, 16,000 partner volunteers and more than
450,000 blood products delivered to hospitals in Quebec annually to fulfill
the needs of patients.

    Give blood. Give life.

    Questions & answers on Chagas disease

For further information:

For further information: Laurent Paul Ménard, External Communications
Director, (514) 832-0871,,;
Source: Valérie Legault, Information Officer

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