Some External Quality Assessment Schemes (EQAS) require large volumes of human serum. During a one year period, 595 units of blood were obtained from 87 patients with haemochromatosis and polycythaemia, who underwent therapeutic venesection at the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Blood Transfusion Service. Serum from 59% of these donations was used in the EQAS for peptide hormones and related substances. The cost of the serum collection was 109 pounds/litre, but was only 33 pounds/litre of serum if the cost of the actual venesection was excluded. Results from tests on the sera were satisfactory in a variety of immunoassays for several different hormones. EQA schemes with requirements for large volumes of serum should consider therapeutic venesection as a cost effective means of obtaining serum.
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