Blood transfusion has been the main process used during surgeries and other critical conditions involving loss of blood. However, the method is associated with high risks, necessitating the need for an alternative. Technically, with the recent technology it is nearly impossible to substitute the entire function of the blood. However, scientists have concentrated all their efforts on finding the substitutes of RBC in terms of finding an effective way of replacing the oxygen-carrying role of blood. This would be very significant in certain situation especially during conducting critical surgeries that may involve drastic loss of blood that may lead to death. Currently, scientists have managed to come up with two kinds of blood substitute which are being tested in the clinical trial (Levy 3). First substitute depends on a certain substance known as perfourocarbons while the other option involves using hemoglobin in absence of Red blood cells. Although the methods may prove expensive, they may be very important and more reliable than blood transfusion especially during surgery in reducing the number of deaths.
Blood transfusion is an ordinary method used to put blood into one’s blood vessels through intravenous (IV) apparatus (Lieberman). Generally, blood transfusion is the current method used to restore blood lost either in a surgery process or other situations that may involve massive loss of blood.
Methods of blood transfusion
This procedure involves connecting donor’s artery with the recipient’s vein through anastomosis (British Committee for Standards in Haematology (BSCH). This method tends to be difficult mainly because of the tiny nature of the donor’s artery. Besides, it is associated with high risk of occlusion taking place in the donor’s artery.
Indirect transfusion occurs mainly in two ways. First method involves incorporation of anticoagulant into the blood while transfusing. The other method is known as whole blood transfusion which involves transfusing blood to the recipient from the donor without mixing it with any chemical. Whole blood transfusion can be done using syringe or kimpson’s tube. According to (Lacroix et al 1213) Whole blood transfusion has a high risk of blood clotting during transfusion, especially if delayed.
Process of blood transfusion
After blood has been donated, it has to undergo several tests to determine its suitability for transfusion in to a patient’s blood stream. According to The whole procedure involves testing for Pathogens, blood group compatibility and disintegration of blood. When donated blood is received, it is initially screened for various things including HIV viruses, Chagas disease, WNV and Hepatitis B and C among others (Stainsby et al. 639). Blood platelets are also tested for any bacterial infections. After testing for any disease carrying pathogens, the blood is then tested for the Rhesus factor (Rh), where it will be identified as either positive or negative. According to Alice et al., before a blood transfusion is done on a patient, the blood recipient’s blood group has to be determined first to know the appropriate blood to transfuse. Also, the Antibodies in the blood to be transfused have to be tested to avoid cases of blood clotting. In this respect, if the recipient tests positive for the antibodies, then the blood to be transfused should be antigen negative.
The shelf life of blood depends on whether the blood has been has been disintegrated into its elements or if is still in its original state. Whole blood transfusion procedure has a shorter shelf life compared to when it is disintegrated into its constituents. When refrigerated, whole blood can last up to a maximum of 35days. However, if blood is disintegrated into its constituents, red blood cells last up to 42days, platelets up to 5days under the conditions of room temperature, plasma and cryoprecipitate AHF last up to 1year when frozen (Lederer). However, the shelf life of whole blood and red blood cells will also vary depending on the type of anticoagulant used.
Advantages of blood substitutes (PFCS and HBOCs)
- PFCs have a potential to help in cancer treatment due to their ability to penetrate the tumor cells.
- They have a longer shelf life at room temperature than the normal red blood cells.
- The usually carry oxygen through red blood cells and plasma while the normal blood use red blood cells only for oxygen transport.
- HBOC’s are compatible with any blood type since they do not react to antibodies; they also start oxygen transport immediately.
Disadvantages of using blood substitutes (PFCs and HBOCs)
- They are not very easily available.
- They lower the level of platelets due to opsonization.
- They have some undesirable vascoactive properties such as excess supply of in the peripheral tissue, excess uptake of nitric oxide etc.
Very expensive. i.e. they cost over 500 dollars