, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 307-317

Pediatric transfusion therapy: Practical considerations

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Abstract

Over the past decade, safety of blood has increased tremendously because of better donor screening as well as testing of the units for transmissible diseases. Component therapy has allowed more effective and economic use of blood. Whole blood is rarely used; instead, packed red cells, platelets, and fresh frozen plasma (FFP) are the most common components used. These products are further refined using irradiation and microaggregate filters and in the case of FFP, viral inactivation. Irradiation prevents transfusion-associated graft versus host disease, whereas microaggregate filters remove leukocytes, decreasing the rates of alloimmunization, febrile nonhemolytic (FNH) reactions, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) transmission. Autologous donation in older children probably provides the safest blood as far as transmissible diseases are concerned. More families request a directed donation and solicit physician help in deciding as well as making arrangements for autologous and/or directed donations.

Transfusions of blood and blood components in children are often challenging and require a knowledge of physiologic changes in hemoglobin and blood volumes during different ages. The unique needs of neonates, immunocompromised patients, and patients with congenital hemolytic anemia (sickle cell, thalassemia) mandate that the pediatrician have an appropriate knowledge of transfusion volumes and choice of blood product as well as indications for transfusion.