I have learnt so much about cancer treatment in the past year, one of them being that cancer patients often need transfusions, I had no idea before! So folks keep on donating blood, I used to before I had Leukaemia.
At first I found it hard to even look at the blood going into my vein…I just felt uneasy about it…this was something from another person’s body and was yet another thing to get my head around. Obviously in the end I had so many that I got used to it.
|One of my many transfusions|
Transfusions are needed due to extremely low levels of platelets in the blood caused by the cancer. However, even though I was given the correctly matched blood my body started to reject it, something called ‘transfusion refractory thrombocytopenia’. This is the body’s immune system reacting to proteins in the donated blood.
The science bit!!!
HLA stands for Human Leucocyte Antigen and they exist on the surface of platelets but are not found on red cells. HLA is a part of the protective mechanism of our immune system and its used to distinguish between ‘self’ and foreign antigens that may enter the body. When this happens antibodies are made to destroy these foreign cells. Most patients don’t need HLA matched platelets but, they are used a lot for patients who have Leukaemia.