Clinical outcomes of ABO-incompatible RBC transfusions

Am J Clin Pathol. 2008 Feb;129(2):276-81. doi: 10.1309/VXY1ULAFUY6E6JT3.


Factors that predict outcome after ABO-incompatible RBC transfusions are not well defined. We studied whether the volume of incompatible blood transfused would determine the signs and symptoms and survival outcome for ABO-incompatible RBC transfusions. We reviewed ABO-incompatible RBC transfusions from our institutions and our consultations for 35 years and from a survey of America's Blood Centers' members regarding causes, volume, signs, symptoms, and outcomes of ABO-incompatible RBC transfusions in their service areas from 1995 through 2005. All ABO-incompatible transfusions were due to error; 26 (62%) of 42 occurred at the patient's bedside. Of 36 patients who received more than 50 mL of incompatible blood, 23 (64%) manifested signs or symptoms related to the incompatible transfusion, and 6 (17)% died. Only 3 (25%) of 12 patients who received 50 mL or less of incompatible blood had associated signs or symptoms, and none died. Hypotension, hemoglobinuria, and/or hemoglobinemia were the most frequent findings in survivors and patients who died.ABO-incompatible RBC transfusion does not inevitably mean death or even occurrence of symptoms. Prompt recognition and discontinuation of the transfusion are critical because transfusing less ABO-incompatible blood may minimize signs and symptoms and may prevent death.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Group Incompatibility / diagnosis*
  • Blood Group Incompatibility / mortality*
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • ABO Blood-Group System