Blood transfusion is the taking of blood or blood-based products from one individual and inserting them into the circulatory system of another individual. It is very important to take care while blood transfusion, to ensure that the recipient's immune system will not attack the donor blood, and also to avoid transfusing white blood cells that could kick off an immune attack on the host.
There are many transfusion related diseases. Here, we present is a limited description of the most commonly known blood transfusion diseases:
Hepatitis B and C - Hepatitis B and C virus are the most common transmitted disease. Donor’s blood is routinely tested for these viruses. Recipients of blood products can also be infected with hepatitis delta, which is a defective RNA virus that needs an HBV infection to replicate.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) - In 1982 the earliest cases of AIDS transmitted from Blood or Blood components were reported, but little of the infection was known at that time. Later, serious testing of Blood products for HIV started. Risk of transmission of HIV is very high.
TTV - Transfusion Transmitted Virus is a relatively new virus becoming widely known in patients with hepatitis and chronic liver disease of unknown etiology.
Creutzfeldt - Jakob Disease (CJD) - A degenerative and fatal nervous system disorder. Affected individuals can remain asymptomatic for decades after infection and then progress rapidly to dementia, severe loss of coordination and death. Though, the risk of CJD being transmitted through Blood products is very low.
Syphilis - Syphilis is transmitted primarily through sexual contact with an infected individual who is in the primary, secondary or early latent stage of the disease. Transmission of syphilis by blood transfusion has become extremely rare after implementation of the serologic test for antibodies to T. pallidum. Currently all blood units are continually screened for serologic markers of syphilis.
Human Herpes Virus (HHV) - Recently, HHV has been described as a potential threat to transfusion safety because of its persistent infection and the high prevalence of antibodies to HHV among blood donors.
Malaria - Malaria is an important parasitic infectious disease worldwide. The parasites are transmitted to a human by the bite of an infected female mosquito. Transfusion transmitted malaria is rare, but it is a potential severe complication in blood recipients.
For recipients, a number of precautions must be taken. When a person's need for a transfusion can be anticipated, as in the case of scheduled surgery, autologous donation (using the patient's own stored blood) can be used to protect against disease transmission and eliminate the problem of blood type compatibility.
The blood given by transfusion must be matched with the recipient's blood type. Incompatible blood types can cause a serious adverse reaction. Blood should be introduced slowly by gravity flow directly into the veins (intravenous infusion) so that medical personnel can observe the patient for signs of adverse reactions. The immune reaction must be checked before giving new blood. Since, the infectious diseases can also be transmitted through the donated blood; a set of tests should be done for all common diseases, before transfusion.
Clerical errors occurring during specimen collection, issue and transfusion of blood are the most common cause of transfusion related diseases. Around 50% of the transfusion fatalities result from errors in properly identifying the patient or the blood components. Therefore an effective system should be followed in detecting errors in transfusion practice, which can prevent potential transfusion-associated fatalities caused by misidentification of blood.