Blood Transfusions Safer Than Ever

by Sam Beli 5 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Sam Beli
    Sam Beli

    Article here:

    You will not see reference to this information in "Awake!"s Watching The World.

  • Joyzabel

    Sam, would you please post the article, all I got was: "The story that you have requested does not exist or has expired."

  • Jourles

    Hey Joy, even if the article didn't exist on Yahoo, we still would not ever see that heading in the Awake.

    Watching the World

    Blood Transfusions Safer Than Ever -- "The latest research shows that blood supplies are now practically disease free and safe for the general public. Improvements in testing over the last decade have virtually eliminated blood-bourne diseases from being spread from donors to recipients...."

    Like I said, we will never see it printed. And I will put down a lifelong standing bet of $1,000 good towards an apostofest if I am ever proved wrong.

  • Joyzabel

    True, Jourles.

    Wow, you're into gambling now, kewl! hehe

  • Sam Beli
    Sam Beli

    Sorry that the link didn't work.

    ACS News Today

    All ACS News Today News

    Blood Transfusions Safer Than Ever

    Chance Of Developing Hepatitis Or HIV Dropping

    March 28, 2003 10:37:11 AM PST, ACS News Today

    The risk of contracting a serious infection through a blood transfusion has been dropping every year for several decades, and the blood supply is the safest it has ever been, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 289, No. 8: 959-962). That means fewer Americans are likely to contract HIV or hepatitis as a result of blood transfusions.

    This news should be reassuring to cancer patients, who often must receive transfusions because of

    chemotherapy treatments or surgery, said Terri Ades, RN, director of quality of life and health promotion strategy for the American Cancer Society.


    Blood transfusions , including component therapy ? giving various parts of blood ? are a very important part of supporting patients during treatment," Ades said.

    Chemotherapy drugs can affect the bone marrow that makes blood cells, she explained, causing

    side effects ranging from anemia to low white blood cell counts to low blood platelet counts. Having a low number of white blood cells increases the risk of infection, and a low blood platelet count puts a patient at risk of serious bleeding problems.

    New growth factor drugs have reduced the number of transfusions needed by helping rebuild the blood cells, but there is still a need for transfusions, Ades said.

    According to Michael Busch MD, PhD, the lead author of the report, a person receiving a blood transfusion in 2003 has only a one in 1,800,000 chance of developing an infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The risk for developing hepatitis C, one of the two major blood borne hepatitis viruses, is one in 1,600,000. The chance of getting hepatitis B is one in 220,000.

    The numbers for HIV and hepatitis C have been dropping steadily since the development of new tests that can detect these viruses in donated blood earlier than was possible before.

    Closing The Window On Infections

    In the past, screening tests measured the donor's blood level of antibodies to these viruses. Antibodies are the body's response to the infection it is trying to fight. But it can take several weeks for antibodies to develop; during this "window," blood from a recently infected donor would not show any infection, but could still transmit the virus.

    Newer tests were introduced in 1998. These tests, called nucleic acid technology screening or NAT, can actually measure the virus levels in the blood. Virus levels rise much earlier than the antibody response and shorten the window period.

    Under the old screening method, for instance, HIV was detectable in the blood about 22 days after infection. With the new methods, HIV can be found in the blood 11 days after infection, decreasing the likelihood of contaminated blood entering the blood supply. For hepatitis C, the reduction is even more dramatic. Old tests could detect the virus about 70 days after infection; the new tests can find it within eight to 10 days.

    NAT hasn't been used to look for the hepatitis B virus, which is why the risk for this infection is higher. But the authors say NAT soon will be used to detect this virus, as well as hepatitis A, and the less common parvovirus, which can cause a rash and joint pain, and more serious illness in cancer patients and people with compromised immune systems. A similar test for the West Nile virus is also under development.

    Donors Needed

    According to the authors, the "virtual elimination of serious consequences of transfusion" resulted from a partnership between medical scientists, test manufacturers and government regulators.

    In spite of this dramatic progress, they say, there is continued pressure to improve safety even more by developing increasingly sensitive tests to detect more pathogens, or by restricting the donor pool to weed out infections for which there are no tests.

    Infections usually seen in tropical countries, such as malaria and Chagas disease, and mad cow disease, which has only been found in Europe, can be brought to the United States by infected immigrants or travelers.

    There have been only a handful of cases of malaria and Chagas disease caused by blood transfusion and none of mad cow disease. Still, blood banks are trying to protect the public by screening out donors who might carry these diseases.

    But such restrictions eliminate as many as 5% of potential donors, making blood an even more scarce resource. As can also be expected, the higher number of complex tests is making blood transfusion more expensive.

    The authors are concerned that the testing and screening for rare diseases may be going too far.

    "These measures may be necessary to regain the trust of the public in the safety and stewardship of the blood supply," they write. "However, it is important to balance safety with the need to maintain an adequate and affordable blood supply."

    Ades said more needs to be done to

    encourage blood donations .

    "Though our criteria for donors are becoming much more stringent, we're still not reaching all the people that could be potential donors," she said.

    Some people, she said, may be able to donate through blood drives at work or on campus, but many others don't have such opportunities readily available.

    "Efforts should be increased to make the public more aware of the need for blood and make it easier for people who can give blood to do so," she said.

  • BluesBrother

    Thank you Sam. Took a print ready for the next family discussion argument

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