Blood board letter `does not fit in with facts as we now know them'

 

A CONSULTANT virologist with Manchester public health laboratory told the tribunal yesterday that he received a letter from the BTSB in May 1978 which did not "fit in with the facts as we now know them

Dr John Craske had written to the then chief medical consultant at the BTSB, Dr Jack O'Riordan, in April 1978, concerning the outbreak of hepatitis-like symptoms in a number of Dublin women who had received anti-D in 1977.

Towards the end of 1977 Dr David Dane, of the Middlesex Hospital in London, had mentioned the Dublin cases to Dr Craske.

Dr Craske became anxious that they should "be more widely known" because, if the patient X specimens at the Middlesex Hospital were of a non-A non-B virus, it was "quite likely" the virus could be transmitted through blood products.

In his reply to Dr Craske, Dr O'Riordan said the cases in Dublin involved "community acquired" hepatitis, which had cleared up in all cases. This was understood by Dr Craske as suggesting the outbreak was of hepatitis A which, because it is contagious, occurred in families/clusters.

He agreed that the "obvious effect of the letter was to mislead me" but he could not say whether that was Dr O'Riordan's intention or not

He said that despite the letter he "still held the opinion" that the Dublin cases "could be related to blood products". But "one had to respect other opinions, especially one as respected as Dr O'Riordan's was at the time".