Blood samples to be returned


AN INFORMATION campaign offering over a million people the right to have their newborns’ blood samples returned to them is to be launched by the Health Service Executive later this year.

Plans to destroy the samples, taken as part of the National Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme using a heel prick test, were opposed by cardiologists who said they could be valuable in genetic testing for Long QT syndrome, the commonest cause of sudden adult deaths in Ireland.

Minister for Health James Reilly told the Dáil: “Parents did not give consent for the retention of the material/data and almost certainly did not consider the potential secondary purposes of the material, including research.”

A HSE review group had recommended that blood samples more than 10 years old should be destroyed.

Dr Joe Galvin, consultant cardiologist at the Mater hospital in Dublin, said the decision to release samples to the public was “a very weak second best”.