Transfusion and Transplant Reactions

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  • 0:01 Transfusion…
  • 0:52 Matching Donors with…
  • 2:27 Transfusion Reactions…
  • 3:54 Transplant Rejection &…
  • 5:04 Graft-Versus-Host Disease
  • 6:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

A transfusion reaction occurs when incompatible blood is given to a recipient. A transplant rejection occurs when an incompatible organ or tissue is given to a recipient. Learn about these reactions and tests that are done to lessen their effects.

Transfusion Reaction-Transplant Rejection

Did you ever bring a date home to meet your parents only to have your parents reject the person, saying they were just not a good match for you? These situations usually don't end well, and feelings get hurt. This is kind of what happens when you try to introduce an organ, tissue or blood type into your body that is not a good match. When this happens, it is not feelings that get hurt, but the physical body itself.

In this lesson, we will take a look at what happens when a person experiences a transfusion reaction, which is a reaction of the body that occurs when transfused blood is attacked by the recipient's immune system, and a transplant rejection, which is a reaction of the body that occurs when a transplanted organ or tissue is attacked by the recipient's immune system.

Matching Donors with Recipients

So as you can see from the definitions, your immune system is the part of you that decides if an organ, tissue or blood type is a suitable match. In this way, your immune system acts somewhat like your overly protective parents. This system is always watching for foreign substances that come into your body. Usually, this is a good thing, as your immune system works tirelessly to keep harmful substances, such as germs and toxins from gaining a foothold inside of you. It does this by detecting antigens that cling to the surface of these foreign substances.

If your immune system recognizes antigens that don't belong, it marks that substance for destruction. However, there are times in life when you want your body to accept foreign substances, namely during a blood transfusion or an organ or tissue transplant. The problem is that you can't simply ask your immune system to allow certain things to stay.

But, organs, tissues and blood types can be matched. This means that the donated substance can be compared to the recipient's body to see if it will be compatible. If the substance being donated is similar to the tissues of the recipient, then the reaction can be lessened. Of course, no two people are exactly alike, so it is not possible to have a perfect match. Also, human error can play a factor in a person receiving a mismatched organ or blood transfusion, and these factors can lead to a reaction.

Transfusion Reactions and Cross Matching

We mentioned that a transfusion reaction occurs when mismatched blood is transfused into a recipient and attacked by that person's immune system. Cross matching is the lab test used to determine if the donor's blood and recipient's blood are compatible.

In order for a blood transfusion to be safe, the blood must be compatible. One thing that is looked for is the same blood type. You may recall that there are four major blood groups, A, B, AB and O, that are determined by the presence or absence of antigens on the red blood cells.

If you get the wrong blood type, your immune system will recognize these antigens as foreign and attack. Yet, blood type is not the only consideration when looking at compatibility. Other factors, such as the Rh factor, must also be matched. The Rh factor is another antigen. If it is present, then the blood is said to be positive; if it is absent, it is negative.

If you receive incompatible blood, the symptoms of a transfusion reaction will often show up fairly soon, if not while you are receiving the transfusion. And, while symptoms and their severity will vary, some resemble flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, dizziness and achiness, including back pain.

Transplant Rejection and Tissue Typing

We also mentioned a transplant rejection. This is a reaction of the body that occurs when a mismatched organ or tissue is attacked by the recipient's immune system. The cells on the donated organ or tissue contain antigens, just like the transfused red blood cells we talked about earlier. If the tissue is mismatched, then it may be rejected by the recipient's body.

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