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.
Tissue typing is a group of tests used to determine if donated tissue is compatible to the recipient's body. This is done before an organ or tissue is transplanted, and it looks for similarities of antigens to minimize the risk of rejection. If an incompatible organ or tissue is introduced into a recipient's body, then symptoms of a transplant rejection would again seem to be flu-like in nature, such as a general ill feeling, fever, chills, dizziness and aches. Yet, it's important to keep in mind that symptoms may vary based on which tissue or organ is transplanted and the degree of match between the donor and recipient.
There are many different organs that can be transplanted, everything from the heart and lungs to the liver and pancreas can be removed from one body and transplanted into a compatible recipient. We also see that many tissues can be transplanted, including tendons, ligaments and even bone marrow.
In fact, a bone marrow transplant is a common treatment for certain blood disorders because the bone marrow is the site where blood cells are made.
A possible complication following a bone marrow transplant is something called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD is defined as a complication following a bone marrow transplant in which the immune cells of the donor attack the recipient's body. If you notice, this is a bit of a twist because the transplanted tissue, which is referred to as the graft, is attacking the recipient or host, instead of the recipient's body attacking and destroying the foreign substance. It is as if the new cells come in like a gang invading a neighborhood and start creating havoc. Just like any transfusion or transplant, tissues and cells of both the donor and recipient are checked for compatibility before a bone marrow transplant. The closer the match, the lower the risk or severity of GVHD.
A transfusion reaction is a reaction of the body that occurs when transfused blood is attacked by the recipient'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 in blood type and Rh factor.
A transplant rejection is a reaction of the body that occurs when a transplanted organ or tissue is attacked by the recipient's immune system. Tissue typing is a group of tests used to determine if donated tissue is compatible to the recipient's body. It looks for similarity of antigens to minimize the risk of rejection.
If a mismatched organ, tissue or blood type is introduced into a recipient's body, then flu-like symptoms and additional symptoms may present. These symptoms will vary based on each individual's case. The severity of symptoms will depend on the degree in match between the donor and recipient.
A bone marrow transplant is a common treatment for certain blood disorders. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a complication following a bone marrow transplant in which the immune cells of the donor attack the recipient's body.
This lesson is designed to help you accomplish the following objectives:
- Define transfusion reaction and transplant rejection, and understand why the reactions occur
- Know what goes into matching up organ and blood donors with recipients
- Interpret the purposes of cross matching and tissue typing
- Discuss graft-versus-host disease