Currently, if you need a blood transfusion the only thing that matters is your blood type. Since giving an A Positive person a transfusion of blood donated by B Positive individual can elicit a serious and life-threatening immune response, healthcare providers always match the donor and recipient based on this factor.
But what about other non-blood related differences between individuals, such as gender and ethnicity? Do they affect patient outcomes after a blood transfusion?
According to a new study published in JAMA, gender and a history of pregnancy among female donors may have an impact on how well blood donors and recipients can be matched. Specifically, this research found that men who received a blood transfusion from a woman who had previous been pregnant – known as “ever-pregnant” – showed a higher incidence of all-cause mortality over the 10-year study period.
Interestingly, males who received a blood transfusion from a never-pregnant female, as well as females who were transfused with the ever-pregnant blood, did not show an increase in mortality. This suggests that some immune factor generated during pregnancy could be involved in the poorer patent outcomes seen in men following blood transfusion from an ever-pregnant female.
The retrospective study included over 30,000 patients who received blood transfusions at six hospitals in the Netherlands between May 2005 and September 2015. While the results will need to be replicated, their findings could have a significant impact on transfusion medicine.
“Further research is needed to replicate these findings, determine their clinical significance, and identify the underlying mechanism,” said the authors of the publication, based in Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
According to a statement from Mary O’Neil, interim chief medical officer of the American Red Cross, the study “needs confirmation as conflicting studies also exist. As further research is required, we do not anticipate a change to the standard blood donation criteria or current conservative transfusion practices at this time. The Red Cross will closely examine subsequent studies on this subject to ensure the ongoing safety and availability of the blood supply.”