Dr. Philip Jones
17 December 2014
The Risk of Saving a Life
The importance of blood and organ donation is undeniable. Right now, more than 120,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ transplant. And on an average, 18 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. In the New York State, someone dies every 15 hours waiting for an organ transplant. (All About Donation). Similarly, every two seconds someone in the US needs blood. More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. People who need blood range from infants suffering from a genetic disease known as sickle cell anemia to cancer patients going through cancer treatment (chemotherapy) and fatal accident victims. A single car accident victim can require 100 pints of blood (Blood Facts and Statistics). Despite the benefits of blood and organ donations, they still remain risky. This risk comes from either the procedure or the after-effects of the donation. Also there are a lot of misconceptions about organ donations that makes patients and donors reluctant about participating in these activities. However, the benefits of these donations far outweigh the probability of the risks associated with them. And the misconceptions that people have about these donations are due to a lack of knowledge. It can be investigated that there are numerous health risks with blood and organ donations and it can also be investigated that these risk are minimal and over-exaggerated because of the misconceptions that people have about donating organs.
The most common fear of people about getting blood transfusions are due to the risk of getting infections transmitted through blood and transfusion reactions. Transfusion reactions include allergic reactions; febrile reactions; transfusion related lung injury; acute immune hemolytic reactions; delayed hemolytic reaction; and graft versus host disease (GVHD) (Eastlund 455). Allergic reactions occur when the body reacts to the protein and other substances present in the donors blood and is easily treatable with simple allergy medication. Febrile reactions occur when the person gets fever like symptom after a transfusion. This can also be treated easily with Tylenol, and doesn't last for very long. Transfusion related lung injury, acute hemolytic and delayed hemolytic reactions are very rare, however, very life threatening. Lung injury causes the patient to experience breathing problems. And acute hemolytic and delayed hemolytic reactions occur when the blood types of the donor and the patient do not match. This causes the body to reject the blood and fight the new blood and break it up into harmful substances (Eastlund 458). Special measures are taken by the blood bank, doctors and nurses to ensure that the blood being donated matches the specific blood group of the patient. Several tests are also made to ensure the safety of these procedures and to reduce the risk of developing these complications (Eastlund 459). With the advancements made in modern medicine, these risks are reduced to almost nil and complications are very rare. GVHD is also easily avoided by radiation therapy for patients under the risk. Risk of transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV are about one in 2 million (Eastlund 460). These risks are further reduced by routine checks and investigating the donors history and background. The risk of getting a bacterial infection is almost none. Blood banks carry out routine checks to ensure that the blood is clear of all possible bacterial infections. Thus the fears associated with blood transfusion is little or none however the lives it saves is beyond doubt higher than the lives it risks. There are a lot of risks associated with organ transplant but the reason why most people fear it is due to numerous misconceptions. Annual report of the "National Donor Designation Report Card April 2009" revealed that 51% of the people believe that doctors will not try as