Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher TD, says the Government must do what it can to ensure that Newborn Screening Card blood samples are preserved for children born between 1984 and 2002.
Deputy Kelleher raised this issue in the Dáil yesterday and called on the Government to extend the March 31 deadline for families to make a formal request for the samples.
“The genetic information contained in the heel prick samples could save countless lives, the Irish Heart Foundation has said the information could be used to identify people at risk of Sudden Cardiac Death.
“Cardiac conditions are often genetic and if these samples are lost then vital genetic information on extended family members of those with heart problems will be lost. Health experts say it would be a disaster if the Newborn Screening Cards are destroyed as they can also be used to detect other fatal conditions and illnesses.
“The March 31 deadline for people to come forward and claim these cards is too short a timeframe. Evidence suggests that only 12% of the population are aware that their screening cards will be destroyed at the end of the month. The Government needs to seek to extend the deadline so a public awareness campaign can be launched.
“There are as many as 1 million blood samples that may be lost and those who stand to lose vital genetic information must be made aware of this at least. We need the Government to act quickly and proactively and seek leave from Europe to at least extend the deadline.
“Lives could potentially be at risk if the blood samples are destroyed and I am calling on the Minister for Health to make addressing this issue a priority.”