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Leukocyte reduction seen as significant advance in transfusion medicine
Date:10/15/2007

East Hills, NY (Oct. 15, 2007) -- Experts called on government and medical organizations involved in blood transfusion to reverse one of the most serious public health policy errors in the history of transfusion therapy in the United States. Neil Blumberg, M.D. and Joanna M. Heal, M.D., specialists in transfusion medicine and hematology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, urged that universal adoption of leukocyte reduction, the removal of leukocytes (white blood cells) from all transfused blood by filtration, be mandated throughout the United States. In a commentary in the October 15, 2007 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, they refer to leukocyte reduction as the greatest advance in preventing short-term complications and death due to blood transfusion in the past half-century.

Leukocyte reduction is a filtration approach that removes more than 99.9 percent of the leukocytes in a unit of blood in less than 30 minutes. Leukocytes in transfused blood represent a danger because they can carry agents causing bacterial, viral, and protozoal infections. Leukocyte reduction is mandated for universal use in most of the developed world. Whereas in the U.S., about 80 percent of donated blood is leukocyte reduced.

Calling universal leukocyte reduction that rarest of therapeutic advances that prevents suffering, illness and death, yet saves money, Drs. Blumberg and Heal cite studies showing that surgical patients receiving transfusions that have not been leukocyte reduced have a 50 percent higher rate of post-operative infection. Dr. Blumberg is Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of the Transfusion Medicine/Blood Bank at the University of Rochester and Director of Clinical Laboratories at Strong Memorial Hospital. Dr. Heal is a member of the Hematology-Oncology Unit of the University of Rochester Department of Medicine.

Also in the October 15 issue, the article Leukocyte Reductions Role in the At
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Contact: Marcia Katz
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Source:Eurekalert

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