Bone Marrow Database

Oral Answers to Questions — Health, Social Services and Public Safety – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 14 October 2002.

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Photo of Robert Coulter Robert Coulter UUP 3:00, 14 October 2002

3. asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what steps she is taking to establish a Northern Ireland bone marrow tissue-typing database.

(AQO 333/02)

Photo of Bairbre de Brún Bairbre de Brún Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Cuireann an tSeirbhís Fuilaistrithe anseo, i gcomhar leis an tSaortharlann Tíopála Fíocháin, go suntasach cheana le Clár Deontóirí Smeara na Breataine. Tá timpeall is 7,000 deontóirí áitiúil ann, ar dheonaigh thart ar 50 acu smior. Tá clár smeara fosta ag Iontaobhas Anthony Nolan agus ag an Chlár Smeara Idirnáisiúnta; tá comhoibriú ann idir na cláir uilig.

The Blood Transfusion Service, in conjunction with the local tissue-typing laboratory, already contributes significantly to the British Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Approximately 50 of the 7,000 local donors have donated bone marrow. The Anthony Nolan Trust and International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry also hold bone marrow registers, and all registries co-operate.

Photo of Robert Coulter Robert Coulter UUP

Will the Minister recommend to her successor that he or she, at an early date, extend to Northern Ireland the existing model for a bone marrow database similar to that already established in England?

Photo of Bairbre de Brún Bairbre de Brún Sinn Féin

A successful outcome in unrelated bone marrow transplantation is critically dependent on an exact match between the donor and patient. The nature of the blood typing that is required to find an exact match means that hundreds of thousands of donors are necessary in order to have a reasonable chance of finding a match, and there are approximately 160,000 donors on the British Bone Marrow Donor Registry. We must take those issues into account when we consider separating from that system.

Since the service began, the public here has shown a lot of interest by volunteering for the programme. The existing bone marrow programme has operated successfully for many years and has resulted in over 50 volunteers donating bone marrow. Our current connection means that anything extra that is done through the NHS will also have a positive, knock-on effect on access to the service here.

Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy UUP

Is the answer "yes" or "no"?