Organs fluid in contamination fear
The solution used to preserve most donor organs in the UK could be contaminated with bacteria, the Government has said.
Viaspan preserves the kidney, liver, pancreas and bowel, and is often used when organs are transported around the country.
The manufacturer of Viaspan, Bristol-Myers Squibb, issued a recall of the product after tests on its production line revealed the presence of the bacteria Bacillus cereus.
The line was last tested in July. The company has told the Government it cannot guarantee the safety of Viaspan since that date.
Hundreds of Britons have received organs since July, although transplant centres have reported no adverse effects in patients linked to possible contamination.
The Government and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are now working to secure alternative liquids. Until then, Viaspan will still be used in the UK and patients can be prescribed an antibiotic in case the bug is present.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: "Our priority is to ensure patients are safe. There is currently no evidence of any problems in patients who have recently had transplants where Viaspan has been used.
"If we were to recall the product immediately it is clear that patients would suffer and some may die.
"The manufacturer has advised that, where necessary, Viaspan can continue to be used until transplant teams have stocks of alternative products and patients can be prescribed an antibiotic known to be effective against the contaminant as a precaution."
Bacillus cereus is most well known for producing a toxin in food which causes food poisoning. Symptoms of the poisoning include diarrhoea - which may be bloody and severe - nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.