The Danger of Blood Transfusions Essay

Submitted By Gooseman394
Words: 1718
Pages: 7

Kenneth Guzman
James Moffit
Eng111 15DT
The Danger of Blood Transfusions

In 1989 the number of diseases that blood banks tested for on a regular basis increased to five. They were Human T-lymphotropic virus 1(virus pre-leukemia), T-cell leukemia (cancer of white blood cells), syphilis, hepatitis B, AIDS and hepatitis C (WT90). Now, 23 years later blood banks have added eight new diseases that they must scan for. A blood specialist, Dr. Charles Huggins says that blood “must be considered unavoidably non-safe, it’s the most dangerous substance used in medicine” (WT90). People think a blood transfusion is just finding someone with a matching blood type and that’s it, but it’s not that simple. The patient or the patient’s guardian only thinks about the blood type, when there are hundreds of other things that fit into the equation when it comes to finding the proper match, and because of those other little things, a blood transfusions can affect someone in the long term. Meaning that the blood can be clean of any disease or virus and be a good match, but the patient’s health can still suffer to the point of death. The immediate down side to receiving blood is receiving contaminated blood. One unit of contaminated blood or 500 ml can carry enough of a virus or bacteria to infect up to 1.75 million people (WT90). Blood is broken down into four different components: red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. Accepting the components can also be a risk for a patient due to contamination (GL08). By June of 1990 in the United States alone, 3,506 people had developed AIDS due to blood transfusions, blood components and tissue transplants. Even plasma-based clotting can be contaminated with viruses (WT90). Clotting that is used to cover a simple cut or incision. Today AIDs is not the only virus that patients need to worry about which was mentioned before. Blood banks now scan blood for eight different viruses, that if they come in contact in any way with a patient’s blood via transfusion, a cut or a component can become lethal. Accepting blood can also affect a patient in the long term as well. When that new blood, blood specific to someone else enters the blood stream, it goes through the whole cycle. It goes to the lungs, to the heart, back to the lungs, to the other members of the body and enters tissue at a microscopic level. That blood was not there before; it was made specific to someone else, using their genes and DNA as building blocks to make that life giving liquid work for a specific person. When that blood enters the body, it can stop the immune system from working up to a year. A doctor explains it as “confusing” the body because it is such a complex substance made specific to one person (WT90). To live for any amount of time without immunity from viruses, bacteria, pathogens, any single cell organism can be at very high risk. That can open the door for any amount of other sicknesses for the patient and cost them their life. Another interesting point is one Professor Neil Blumberg brings out, “We’ve been persuaded, over the years, that many of the bad things that happen to patients after surgery, are in fact, not bad luck, are not a lack of surgical skills, but are in fact, the complications of blood transfusions”. (NB2001)
The long recovery times, the unexpected complications, the emotional stress a person and their family go through, might have been caused by the lack of knowledge about accepting blood. Blood transfusion have become a basic part of the medical field, used every day in a number of health situations. People accept blood without knowing the risks and only thinking about the reward, which really is just pacifying whatever condition the person is suffering from. If the patient would analyze the risk and rewards that blood transfusions bring, they would think twice about the medical treatments that they choose and find other alternatives that can suit their needs better. As