Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Truly Shocking Blood Donation

Blood Transfusion service
For many years, I was one of those people who carry an Epi-pen around with me. Back in 1995, I had suffered a massive allergic reaction to something – I know not what – and the resulting anaphylactic shock nearly brought my innings to an early close. It was a close shave and not one I am in a hurry to repeat.

I have now been told that I can dispense with my Epi-pen. I had carried it around everywhere I went, determined not to fall victim a second time. But despite extensive tests, they never did find what caused the reaction. “It’s rare”, I was told. Too rare to worry about it seems.

I have a colleague who can be less casual about such things. She has a range of allergens which she must avoid and it makes quite an impact on her day to day habits. Nuts are one such allergen. Everyone here at Lorne is careful about the nut situation and we never offer biscuits or cakes (on birthdays, you understand) that might contain nuts. Having said that, among the many risks she faces, the one that has probably not pressed itself on her thoughts is the risk she takes when receiving a blood transfusion (let’s hope she never needs one!).

Earlier this year, doctors in the Netherlands confirmed that a child had suffered an anaphylactic shock after receiving a blood transfusion. It turns out that some of the donors had been eating peanuts shortly before making their donation. The child survived, but it did suggest that there may have been unexplained deaths after other transfusions that could be attributed to allergic rather than transfusion reactions. Now that the risk has been proven, I wonder how long it will be before the Blood Transfusion Service requests nut-free blood donations!

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