Blood Transfusion

Our Blood Transfusion Service provides haemostatic support for patients, supplying compatible blood products for patients with conditions such as  leukaemia, haemophilia and haemoglobinopathies, as well as for surgical, obstetric or trauma-related blood loss. We have transfusion laboratories situated at both Peterborough City Hospital and at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, both of which are regulated by the MHRA.

The Transfusion laboratories operate 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and are staffed by a team of HCPC registered Biomedical Scientists, Associate Practitioners, and Medical Laboratory Assistants.

Pre-Transfusion Testing

There are over 40 known blood group systems however the ABO and Rhesus (Rh) systems are the most important in blood transfusion. There are four ABO blood groups: A, B, AB and O. The most important antigen in the Rh system is D; individuals can either be Rh D positive or Rh D negative.

If a patient is likely to require a blood transfusion they must first have their ABO and Rh D type determined, as well as being screened for the presence of antibodies to other blood group antigens. Together, these investigations make up a ‘Group and Screen’ test.

Most of this testing is performed in our hospital laboratories that are equipped with state of the art automated blood grouping analysers. An urgent group and screen test can be performed and reported within 45 minutes of the sample arriving in the laboratory.

In emergencies, such as major trauma or massive blood loss, where pre-transfusion testing would delay the provision of blood components, the blood bank fridges hold emergency O RhD Negative red blood cells which are considered to be the ’universal donor’ and can be given to most patients.

Blood Component Issue

In addition to RBCs, the laboratory can also provide fresh frozen plasma (FFP), cryoprecipitate, platelets, prophylactic anti-D and clotting factors.

  • Fresh Frozen Plasma— is a blood component made of donor plasma and is selected according to blood type. It is used to replace clotting factors and blood volume in patients that are bleeding. As its name suggests it is stored frozen to preserve its shelf life and activity of the clotting factors. It must be thawed in specialist incubators before  it is transfused.
  • Cryoprecipitate— is another frozen donated plasma component similar to FFP but with a high concentration of fibrinogen to help blood to clot.
  • Platelets— donor platelets are given to treat patients who are bleeding or at risk or bleeding due to  ‘thrombocytopenia’ (low platelet count).
  • Prophylactic anti-D—is typically given to RhD negative pregnant women to prevent development of ‘immune anti-D’ that can cause anaemia in the unborn baby  in current and future pregnancies.
  • Clotting factors—are manufactured to contain high concentrations of specific clotting factors to treat patients with bleeding disorders  such as Factor VIII to treat Haemophilia A.

Antenatal Screening
The Blood Transfusion laboratory provides blood grouping and antibody screening as part of routine antenatal testing. Group and Screen tests are routinely performed at ‘Booking’ (10-12 weeks) and again in ‘Late Pregnancy’ (around 28weeks). These tests identify mothers who are RhD negative and require referral to the ’Anti-D Clinic’ for administration of Routine Antenatal Anti-D Prophylaxis at 28 weeks.