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February 1, 1995

Donor Pool May Rise as Screening Blood Test Falls

JAMA. 1995;273(5):366. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520290018006

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THOUSANDS OF NEW volunteer blood donors may be added to increase the dangerously low national pool as soon as blood banks are able to review and put into effect a recent recommendation from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

One screening test for hepatitis B core antigen in the blood of potential donors has outlived its usefulness and should be discontinued, a panel of experts convened by the NIH last month concluded. Use of the alanine transaminase (ALT) test (also known as alanine aminotransferase) as a tool for identifying blood that may transmit posttransfusion non-A, non-B (NANB) hepatitis began during 1986 and 1987. It was introduced by blood banks acting largely on a recommendation made in 1985 by an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration.

Lacking a direct means of detecting NANB hepatitis virus, blood banks used the liver enzyme—measuring test as a surrogate marker for the virus's

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