I was rooting through my medical box and found a leaflet called: Information for patients needing irradiated blood. I forgot all about this. So thought I would share it with you readers and give you a sort of lesson or learning post.
As I had a stem cell transplant last year, if I ever need blood transfusions in the future I have to ask the medical staff if the blood I am receiving is irradiated before it is transfused.
What is irradiated blood and why is it needed?
Irradiated blood is blood that has been treated with radiation. (by x-rays or other forms of radioactivity) This is to prevent Transfusion-Associated Graft-versus Host Disease.(TA-GvHD)
What is Transfusion-Associated Graft-versus Host Disease?
It is a rare but serious complication of blood transfusion caused by white blood cells in the transfused blood. A very small number of these cells may see the patient receiving the blood as 'different' and can cause a severe illness or even death.
Which patients are at risk of TA-GvHD?
Patients receiving transfusions of family members.
Patients with an inherited immune system disorder.
Patients who have developed an immune system disorder (Hodgkin's disease)
Patients who have had a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.
Unborn babies and babies needing exchange transfusions.
How does irradiation work?
Irradiation of the blood prevents lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) dividing and causing harm.
Is all blood routinely irradiated?
No. Red cell and platelet transfusions are not routinely irradiated and need to be irradiated 'on demand' for patients at risk of TA-GvHD.
What if blood is needed in an emergency?
Although irradiated blood is recommended, if I receive a small amount of non-irradiated blood the risk of TA-GvHD is very small. In serious emergencies there may not be enough time to arrange for blood to be irradiated. The medical team will judge the balance of the risks.