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The High Rate of Blood Donor Exposure for Critically III Neonates

  • Leigh G. Donowitz (a1), Ronald B. Turner (a2), Mary Ann M. Searcy (a3), Naomi L.C. Luban (a4) and J. Owen Hendley (a1)...


The purpose of this study was to determine the number and volume of red blood cell (RBC) transfusions and the number of donors a newborn is exposed to during his or her newborn intensive care unit (NICU) stay. On one day at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and two days at the University of Virginia Hospital (UVH) all babies who had or were receiving RBCs comprised the study group. Patient records were reviewed at discharge. Fifty-two (70%) of the 75 NICU babies had or were receiving RBCs and were enrolled. The average number of RBC transfusions was nine (range 1 to 28, median 7) and the average transfusion volume was 16.5 ml (range 5 to 60) for a total volume of 148 ml transfused during a NICU stay. Each baby was exposed to an average of 6.9 donors (range 1 to 25, median 6.5). The practice of splitting RBC packs to share among different infants and of giving multiple small volume transfusions maximizes donor exposure and transfusion-related infectious risks in this population.


Corresponding author

Department of Pediatrics, Box 386, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, VA 22908


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3.Kakaiya, RM, Morrison, FS, Halbrook, JC, Rawson, JE, Lotz, CC. Problems with a walking donor transfusion program. Transfusion. 1979;19:577580.
4.Oberman, HA. Transfusion of the neonatal patient. Transfusion. 1974;14:183184. Special Report.


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