The chances of getting HIV or hepatitis C from donated blood have been all but eliminated thanks to sophisticated screening. However, there are still plenty of risks. Scientists recently discovered that certain antibodies in the blood of women who have ever been pregnant can cause a reaction known as transfusion-related acute lung injury or TRALI. This reaction is believed to cause at least 50 – 100 deaths per year in the U.S. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a blood screening test for Chagas disease, a potentially fatal blood-borne illness linked to a parasite that affects as many as 11 million people in Latin America.
What do we learn from these developments? If you are healthy, continue to donate blood at your local Red Cross. If you are planning elective surgery, donate your own blood (autologous) for use, if needed, during or after surgery. There is no blood like your blood!
Read what the FDA has to say about donated blood here.
Read about the American Red Cross’ policy here.
Read suggestions from the nonprofit group AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) here.