The earliest documentation of blood transfusion is found in the religious text of many civilizations. The first documented demonstration of blood transfusion was between two dogs by Richard Lower in 1665.
Landsteiner discovered the ABO Blood Group system in 1901, which is one of the most important landmark discoveries in the Transfusion Medicine. In the 1970s, voluntary donors were accepted as blood donors. These donors were later on found to be having high-risk activities and the recipients were found to be suffering from liver diseases. This lead to the discovery of Hepatitis B transmitted by donated blood. Since then testing for the hepatitis B antigen was implemented and this together with cessation of paid donors reduced the incidence of post transfusion hepatitis. Further studies also made us include tests for Malaria, Syphilis, AIDS, and Hepatitis C to make the donated blood as safe as possible to the recipient.
What is blood?
One can almost say that blood is that magic potion which gives life to a person. Though we have made tremendous discoveries and inventions in Science, but we are not yet able to make the magic potion called Blood. Human blood has no substitute. Requirement of safe blood is increasing and regular voluntary blood donations are vital for blood transfusion services.
Who can donate blood?
Eligibility criteria for blood donation – Donor should be between 18-55 years of age with a weight of 50 kg or above and with his pulse rate, body temperature and blood pressure normal. Both men and women can donate. There are only few conditions in which donors are permanently excluded. The donor with a history of epilepsy, psychotic disorders, abnormal bleeding tendencies, severe asthma, cardiovascular disorders and malignancy is permanently unfit for blood donation. Donors suffering from diseases like hepatitis, malaria, measles, mumps, and syphilis may donate blood after full recovery with a 3-6 months gap. Also people who have undergone surgery or blood transfusion may safely donate blood after 6-12 months. For women donors who are pregnant or lactating, blood is not taken from them as their iron reserves are already on the lower side.
How much blood can be taken?
Our body has 5.5 liters of blood of which only 350 ml – 450 ml of blood is taken depending upon the weight of the donor. Majority of healthy adults can tolerate withdrawal of one unit of blood. The withdrawn blood volume is restored within 24 hours and the hemoglobin and cell components are restored in 2 months. Therefore it is safe to donate blood every three months.
What is done with the blood collected?
The blood collected is stored in sterile, progeny free containers with anticoagulants like CPDA or CPDA with SAGM. This prevents clotting and provides nutrition for the cells. This blood is stored at 2-6 C or -20 C depending on the component prepared. Donated blood undergoes various tests like blood grouping, antibody detection, testing of infections like hepatitis, AIDS, Malaria, syphilis and before it reaches the recipient it undergoes compatibility testing with the recipient’s blood.
Modern Blood Transfusion Practice
Modern blood transfusion basically deals with the optimal use of one unit of blood. One unit of whole blood is separated into components, making it available to different patients according to their requirement. Thus, one unit of blood is converted into a packed cell volume, fresh frozen plasma, platelet concentrate, cryoprecipitate and granulocytes concentrate.
Another important practice is aphaeresis. This causes separation of only the desired component of blood from the donor and returns the remaining constituent back to the donor. This technique is also used for the remaining pathological substance in patients.
Withdrawal of blood for transfusion is regarded as a safe procedure now and blood donor has emerged as the single most vital link.