By: 26 June 2019
High marks for bone bank

Wrightington Hospital’s Bone Bank has once again achieved the stringent criteria set out by regulatory body, the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), following an onsite inspection.

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.

Wrightington’s Bone Bank was set up in 1990, and is run by Barbara Watkinson, also affectionately known as “Barbara Bone”. At Wrightington, primary hip replacements have been successfully carried out over many decades, which has created the need to revise and “make good” on failing arthroplasties. A very successful and “biological” technique is to replace the bone lost in the process with other bone.

In the wake of European legislation, and the central monitoring of these processes, the HTA was set up in 2004. This transformation made Wrightington’s Bone Bank a satellite site to NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT) in Liverpool. With ever increasing need for bone, and increasing costs for bone donated at Wrightington, the logical step was for Wrightington to become an independent Bone Bank once again. Barbara Watkinson and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Bodo Purbach, clinical lead for the service, achieved the status of a full licence more than three years ago.

The Wrightington Bone Bank harvests femoral heads from patients undergoing total hip replacements. Approximately 550 are harvested every year and these are used for patients requiring revision surgery, particularly revision hip, knee and shoulder replacements. Femoral heads are fresh frozen at -80˚C in dedicated freezers at the hospital. Each stage of the donation process from consent, medical assessment of donors, microbiology and serology testing (tests that look for antibodies in your blood), storage and clinical use of bone is governed by a robust quality system to ensure safety and confidentiality of both the donor and recipient.

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 Human Tissue Authority (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, and we have also partnered up with a professional distribution company, Joint Operations, which means that we are able to supply them with surplus bone and reduce the costs of running the Bone Bank.”