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High marks for Bone Bank

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Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NH Foundation Trust’s Bone Bank has once again passed its inspection by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).

The inspection, carried out every two years, sets out to ensure the unit is compliant with national and international rules and guidelines for safe practice in its use of human tissue.

Passing the inspection is crucial as if a major fault is identified the Bone Bank could be shut down immediately.

Set up in 1990, Wrightington’s Bone Bank is run by Barbara Watkinson, who has earned the apt nickname of “Barbara Bone”.

In 2015 the Bone Bank became independent which resulted in savings of over £700 per femoral head.

And, in becoming independent, the Trust can ensure a steady supplier of the necessary donations in a much more cost effective way.

Keeping the department running to regulatory standards requires a huge amount of work from the team, from conducting internal audits to ensuring all Standard Operating Procedure guidelines are kept up to date.

Lisa Smith, Bone Bank Facilitator, said; “It’s quite an intense inspection and there’s a lot of pressure but we were confident we would pass as we always maintain our high standards.”

Many of the femoral heads stored in the Bone Bank are donated by willing patients who undergo full hip replacements at the Trust.

Once donated, the femoral heads can be stored for up to five years before being used thanks to the -80 degree temperature at which they are stored.

These donations are crucial to some revision surgeries, such as hip, knee and shoulder replacements, as bone which is lost during surgery can be replaced with bone from a donated femoral head.

As and when they are required, the femoral heads are removed from the cold temperatures they are stored and placed in warm saline, which defrosts them almost instantaneously.

But keeping the system working requires a team effort from everyone involved, from the admissions staff, to the nurses who see patients pre-operatively and gain consent, to the theatre team who label and store the femoral heads in the storing freezers.

Of the team effort Lisa said; “Everyone works together to make sure our patients can continue to use this service.

“It is thanks to everyone involved that we pass these inspections because everyone has a part to play in helping to maintain our high standards.”

“Every bone needs to be traceable back to the exact date and time it was harvested from its donor.”

Mr Bodo Purbach, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and lead clinician for the Bone Bank, said; “We are delighted to consistently meet the high standards of the HTA.

“The Bone Bank has been a great success and has helped many of our patients since we started almost four years ago.

“The benefits are huge; the need for bone is growing across all areas of orthopaedic surgery and we are able to meet this demand in-house.”

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