Irish patient contracts Hepatitis B through blood transfusion

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) called it a "rare one in two million event"

Irish patient contracts Hepatitis B through blood transfusion

Picture by: Friso Gentsch/DPA/PA Images

Updated 18:15

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service has moved to reassure the public that it has the best standard of blood testing available.

It comes after a patient was infected with Hepatitis B through a blood transfusion.

This afternoon, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) confirmed to Newstalk that the patient has since made a full recovery and is now clear of the infection.

Extremely rare case

The service said that as the donor was only recently infected, the virus was not picked up by two tests.

It said the donation was made in the "window period when the presence of the virus cannot be detected even by the most sensitive tests available."

The blood tested negative at the time of the donation, as did a further test after the infection was detected. 

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said the Irish service is safe:

“I think all of us are thinking of the patient at this very sensitive time,” he said. “I am sure the blood transfusion service will continue to keep the public and indeed me as minister up to date.

“But the very important message in a country that often relies on people donating their blood and indeed many patients relying on blood is that there is no ongoing patient safety incident.”

Best standard possible

Dr Stephen Field, Medical and Scientific Director of the IBTS, said he would like to reassure the public that "we do have the best standard possible of testing here at the IBTS."

"We have gone to Nth degree to make it safe; we have learned the lessons of the past.

He said the infection is a "rare one in two million event" adding that it "does not have any implications for blood that will be transfused to patients in the future."

"The IBTS has tested 1.2m donations to date and there has been no other confirmed transfusion transmitted infection of Hepatitis B,” he said. 

The patient is now being managed by a medical team.

Health Minister Simon Harris also stressed that it is an 'extraordinarily rare' situation, and said it is believed to be "the first time it has occurred in this country".