Birth Definitions

Autologous Transfusion Definition


Transfusion is a procedure where blood is taken from the expectant mother prior to childbirth and stored for transfusion back to her after delivery. The purpose of this procedure is to reduce the risk of complications associated with allogeneic transfusions resulting in transfusion reactions, such as immunologic reactions or transmission of infectious diseases. Additionally, autologous transfusion may be used in cases where there is a shortage of allogeneic blood.

Transfusion reactions can occur when incompatible blood types are mixed, such as when a woman with Rh-negative blood is given Rh-positive blood. Incompatible blood types can cause problems for the baby, such as hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN). HDN occurs when the antibodies in the mother’s immune system destroy the baby’s red blood cells. This can lead to jaundice, anemia, heart failure, and even death. By having compatible blood types, autologous transfusion reduces the risk of HDN. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of this procedure are 1) reduction of the risk of infection transmission, and 2) providing the best match for blood type between mother and baby, eliminating the risk of immunologic reactions.

However, there are also some disadvantages associated with this procedure such as 1) the possibility that the expectant mother may require additional blood transfusions if she loses a large amount of blood during childbirth, and 2) autologous transfusion may not be possible in cases where the expectant mother has certain medical conditions that prevent her from safely storing her own blood. In addition, there is always a small risk that something could go wrong during the procedure, such as infection or bleeding. However, these risks are usually outweighed by the benefits of autologous transfusion as complications associated with autologous transfusion are typically rare and most often mild.

Other Related Terms

Some terms closely related to autologous transfusion include allogeneic transfusion and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Allogeneic transfusion is the transfusion of blood or blood products from one individual to another. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate is a test that measures how quickly red blood cells settle in a tube of blood.

This image shows how often the term ‘Autologous Transfusion’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

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