'Blood centre closure will will hit patients fighting cancer'

Brentwood Weekly News: The Weekly News can reveal the centre, in Crescent Drive, is the only one of 24 permanent bases across the UK earmarked to close The Weekly News can reveal the centre, in Crescent Drive, is the only one of 24 permanent bases across the UK earmarked to close

BLOOD donors are concerned the closure of Brentwood Blood Centre will hit patients fighting cancer.

And the Weekly News can reveal the centre, in Crescent Drive, is the only one of 24 permanent bases across the UK, earmarked to go.

Donors see it as a vital resource because it enables local people to donate platelets, via a process called apheresis, which takes only certain components from donors’ blood.

These are then used to help newborn babies, children and people going through chemotherapy and other complex illnesses.

The Weekly News revealed last month how the NHS Blood and Transport board was considering closing the centre, one of the most successful in the south of England.

Instead, platelet donors are being encouraged to donate whole blood, less frequently, at community clinics across the area.

The board claim experts say platelets can be taken from whole blood donations safely.

Yet donors questioned whether patients receiving platelets taken from a variety of different blood donors, rather than just one, was as effective.

In letters sent to donors, the Trust said: “It is recommended that making platelets from whole blood donated regularly (not by apheresis) is just as safe for the majority of patients.”

A spokesperson for Platelet Donors at the Brentwood Blood Centre, campaigning against the closure, is concerned about the “minority”.

The spokesperson said: “Would you as a hospital patient or if it was required for a loved one, be happy to accept platelets which have been derived from whole blood from four different donors?”

The NHS board had been considering moving the donor centre to another site in Brentwood at an anticipated cost of about £1million.

A spokeswoman said platelets taken by apheresis will still be given to poorly newborn babies, children and patients with complicated conditions.

But she added new advice by scientists mean that less platelet donors are needed.

She said: “We will always be collecting by apheresis but we don’t know by what percentage yet. But we don’t need to supply 80 per cent of blood by platelets any more.

“We can’t speak for patients, but we’ve consulted with hopsital transfusion centres and from those labs which are served by the centre and they have expressed no concerns.”

She added: “The Brentwood centre is really successful which is why if we do make the decision to close it, it will be very difficult for us.”

A decision on the future of the blood centre will be made on Thursday, May 22.

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