One in 20 Americans will require a blood transfusion at some point in their lives. Yet, many remain uninformed about the reason for transfusions, the risks associated with them, and ways to avoid or minimize them. Pall Corporation has launched a web site--Blood Transfusions: Knowing Your Options--as an educational service to the public. The site can be accessed through the address: www.bloodtransfusion.com and includes information provided by Americas Blood Centers and the American Association of Blood Banks, as well as links to those and other health-related web sites. It describes the components of blood and explains how one of those components, leukocytes (white blood cells), can carry disease or weaken an immune system.
It is important for the public to know, says Pall, that if they need a transfusion, they should demand blood that has been filtered to reduce leukocytes and the viruses associated with them. Visitors to http://www.b1oodtransfusion.com will find a card that they can print and carry in their wallets that specifies their wishes regarding any blood products needed in an emergency.
As public awareness of blood-transmitted diseases grows, patients need to understand what the risks, benefits, and their options are when a blood transfusion is called for. Recognizing that fact, industrialized nations are moving toward adopting routine leukocyte filtration as standard practice. Recently, the United Kingdom joined Austria, France, Ireland, Norway, and Portugal, in requiring that leukocyte reduction by prefiltration be implemented to protect public health and safety. The Canadian Red Cross also recently began the use of leukocyte reduction by filtration for all whole-blood-derived platelets. In the United States, where 12 million units of blood are collected annually, 60% to 70% of platelet components are leukocyte-reduced; 20% of red cells are leukocyte-reduced.