Incidence of red cell antibodies after multiple blood transfusion

Transfusion. 1990 Jul-Aug;30(6):532-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1537-2995.1990.30690333485.x.


A retrospective study was performed to estimate the frequency of alloimmunization against red cell (RBC) antigens in a multiply transfused group. Patients (n = 186) were studied who had received at least six blood transfusions during a period of at least 3 months. Some 6944 units of blood were transfused. One hundred forty patients had hematologic disorders. The patients' sera were investigated every 3 months with indirect antiglobulin tests and enzyme-treated RBCs. Twenty-two patients (11.8%) made 33 antibodies. Seven patients made more than one antibody. Eight of the 22 patients (36.4%) made their first antibody before or at the 10th transfusion. The risk of immunization increased with the number of transfusions. Influence of gender and age was not demonstrable. Nor was a relationship demonstrated between blood transfusion reactions and RBC antibody formation; no delayed hemolytic transfusion reactions occurred. Anti-E was demonstrated in 12 patients and anti-K in 15. When the gene frequencies were taken into account, it appeared that anti-E was made by 11.5 percent of E-negative patients, most of whom were immunized after an estimated three transfusions with E-positive blood. Anti-K was made by 8.7 percent of the K-negative patients, after an estimated 2.1 units of K-positive blood. It might be desirable to match red cell units for the E and K antigens in patients at relatively high risk. These are primarily patients who have already formed an antibody and are going to receive many transfusions and women of childbearing age who are to receive more than 4 units of blood.

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Formation
  • Blood Group Antigens / immunology*
  • Blood Transfusion*
  • Humans
  • Isoantibodies / analysis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Group Antigens
  • Isoantibodies