Friday, February 13, 2004

More on CJD...

This CJD thing isn't going away. Guaranteed. Take this story:
    But Hatte Blejer, of Alexandria, Va., shook some of the committee members with the story of her late husband, Daniel, a lifelong blood donor who died five weeks ago of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a condition similar to the human form of mad-cow disease.

    The classical form of CJD, which Blejer's husband had, is thought to be caused by genetic mutations that arise spontaneously in roughly one person in a million. Both diseases kill victims after eating holes in their brains. As soon as she found out what was wrong with her husband, Blejer contacted local blood banks, where he had donated three times a year for 25 years. She also tried to alert hospitals where he had undergone seven brain operations.

    She discovered there was no federal system in place to warn blood banks and other medical facilities when a former donor or patient is diagnosed with CJD.

    "If I had not contacted them, the Red Cross would never have known," she said.

    As it was, there was little the blood bank could do, since the donated blood had been used. Blejer said she was never able to find out whether the surgical instruments used on her husband were reused, potentially spreading the brain infection to other people.

My heart goes out to this woman. I applaud her efforts to contact authorities despite all that she's gone through. What sticks out like a huge red warning flag is that little comment about the seven brain surgeries he endured.

But consider this: could he have gotten CJD from the surgeries, either from blood transfusions or the instruments?