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