Author Affiliation: Department of Transfusion Medicine, Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.
Is blood transfusion safe, or is blood one of the most dangerous drugs
in the physician's therapeutic armamentarium? The articles by Glynn et al1 and Ling et al2 in
this issue of THE JOURNAL embody the quintessential paradox of blood transfusion:
blood is safer than ever, but the usual notions of safety do not necessarily
apply where transfusion is concerned.1,2
Perhaps it is the mythical and spiritual significance that has been attached
to blood by many cultures, or perhaps the devastation inflicted on the recipients
of blood infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Whatever the
reason, blood seems to have gained a singular status—simultaneously
feared and revered. Developed countries have come to demand absolute freedom
from transfusion-transmitted infection, while simultaneously conceding that
zero-risk transfusion is unlikely to ever be achieved.
Klein HG. Will Blood Transfusion Ever Be Safe Enough?. JAMA. 2000;284(2):238-240. doi:10.1001/jama.284.2.238