January 10, 2008
Eighteen British military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan may have received unscreened blood transfused during their medical emergency, the Sun newspaper has reported. Due to the soldiers' urgent need, the blood was supplied by the United States instead of Britain. After the Pentagon cautioned that some batches of blood used were not properly screened, British military officials located the soldiers and instructed them to be tested for blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
"Where time is of the essence, it can be clinically essential to use American or other coalition medical facilities and their blood or blood products if they can be made available sooner," the Ministry of Defense told the Sun.
"The defense secretary acted quickly to ensure that those British personnel involved were informed as soon as possible," said Defense Minister Derek Twigg. "The actual risk of any infection is low; however, we are taking it extremely seriously," he said. "We are working with the appropriate health authorities to do all that we can to test and reassure the people involved. We will continue to do all that we can do to support them and their families through this uncertain time."