Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why are Blood Transfusions so Complicated?

Why are Blood Transfusions so complicated?

A Blood Transfusion is a preferred choice of treatment by many doctors to replace a major blood loss from a multitude of causes. The actually procedure is actually very simple; an intravenous line is inserted into one of your blood vessels and the blood is slowly run into your body.
A Blood Transfusion treatment method is commonly used during major surgeries; if you have an illness that causes heavy bleeding and leads to a loss of, or destruction of blood cells, and/or when there has been a significant loss of blood.
Though it sounds simple enough, there are complications every 1 in 14,000 in the United States alone. If the population of USA is 311,600,000 that means that if the entire country would to get a blood transfusion that 22, 257 would have complications and most probably they would be contagious or venereal disease that would spread. Of the possible complications that may arise the following are the most common:

Allergic reactions most commonly from a histemic reaction from the plasma  in the donated blood.

Febrile reactions have symptoms of a sudden fever, headache, nausea and chills.

Transfusion-related Acute lung injury happens in 1 of every 5,000 transfusions.

Acute immune hemolytic reaction is when the donor and patient blood types do not match and the antibodies attack the “invading” blood cells and cause the blood cells to break open and disperse hazardous materials from the cell into the blood stream. This can cause Chest and lower back pain, fever, chills, and nausea and in some cases DEATH!

Delayed hemolytic reaction, the kidneys are affected by the drop in red blood cell count due to the body rejecting the transfused blood.

Various types of infections such as Hepatitis B and C, Human  immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis, HTLV-I, and HTVL-II, even the West Nile virus.

Why are there so many complications and errors present when transfusing blood?
Well the fact that the blood must be donated in large amounts from a large pool of people that possibly do not know if they have a virus or a venereal disease and then the blood is tested with some old and some new methods but they are not always so easy.
How complicated is it to get the right blood to the right person?
I believe that TV Tropes puts it quite simple as to why it is so complicated and these things take time to do and must be meticulously researched.
“In the early twentieth century, red blood cells were first given the most common classifications: O, A, B and AB. Three decades later the Rhesus factor was also discovered, marking any blood as RH positive (+) or RH negative (-), and woe to you if you get a transfusion of the wrong RH. (Only applicable if the receiver is RH negative. In RH- blood there is no antigen for the RH+ body to recognize and fight, whereas the RH- body will attack RH+ blood.) Now, O red cells can be given to anyone, and AB can receive any type of red blood cells. So a really rare blood type for receiving a red cell donation would be O- (because the only type they can tolerate is another O-), B-, then A- (B- is the rarest of the three, but can tolerate the more common O-, as can A-).
With plasma, it's the other way around. The plasma of group O people contains antibodies to both A and B blood group substances, which is why they have a reaction if they receive those types. So giving O plasma to an A patient may result in a minor reaction as the donated antibodies attack the recipient's cells. AB plasma has neither antibody, so it can be given to anyone.”

"รขˆ‡troperville." AB Negative. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

"Blood Transfusion-Overview." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.
"Possible Risks of Blood Transfusions." Possible Risks of Blood Transfusions. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.
"What Is a Blood Transfusion?" - NHLBI, NIH. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.
"Complications of Blood Transfusion." Transfusion Medicine |. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.
"BJA: CEACCP." Complications of Blood Transfusion. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.
"Population in the U.S.-Google Public Data Explorer." Population in the U.S.-Google Public Data Explorer. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

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