ABC Health & Wellbeing, Australia – Why experts are rethinking blood transfusions

Australia – 4th August, 2015

Bianca Nogrady, ABC Health & Wellbeing, Australia


While there’s no denying blood transfusions save lives, there’s a growing awareness of the potential risks of these ‘liquid organ transplants’.

Countless lives have been saved in the hundreds of years that people have been receiving blood transfusions.

Transfusions replenish blood lost through trauma, illness or surgery. They are a medical safety net; there for when surgery doesn’t quite go according to plan, and patients need a little top-up. They are also a lifeline for people with inherited blood disorders, certain rare diseases or who are undergoing chemotherapy.

But the field of transfusion medicine is changing. Instead of being viewed as an inert recharging of fluid, we are now coming to appreciate that a blood transfusion is essentially a liquid organ transplant, says National Blood Authority chair Leigh McJames; and like any other organ transplant, it has its risks.