Blood Transfusion Gives the Gift of Food Allergies

Receiving a blood transfusion can mean the difference between life and death and is certainly a true gift given by countless well-meaning folks. However, in the case of a young Canadian boy, his blood transfusion also gave him a less welcome gift, food allergies. The eight year old boy had to be rushed to the Emergency Room with anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction to certain food that can be severe or deadly. The boy ate some healthy salmon a few weeks after his blood transfusion and suffered the reaction within a few minutes. Doctors reassured the family and sent the boy home with the advice he might want to carry injectable epinephrine just in case. Just days later, the boy ate chocolate and peanut butter together and had another allergic reaction. This boy had never suffered food allergies prior to the blood transfusion, and it is normally very rare that someone suddenly develop reactions to foods that have been consumed in the past without trouble. Therefore, doctors had the blood transfusion to blame in this not too common case.

When this particular boy received his blood transfusion, it included the liquid part of the blood that contains antibodies, plasma, so this could explain why antibodies built up in the donor’s system against certain foods was passed on to this boy. When things were looked into further with the blood/plasma donor, it was in fact found the individual suffered allergies to fish, including shellfish, and nuts. The good news was that the boy received treatment in time for his unexpected anaphylactic reactions and that by the six month mark after the transfusion, he was able to eat fish and nuts again without reaction. The boy’s own body had never produced its own antibodies against any foods so with time the antibody reaction from the donor plasma subsided. Doctors do recommend that the reintroduction of allergen containing foods, in cases like this boy’s, be done while supervised by medical professionals.

Thankfully, cases such as this one are pretty rare, but everyone is concerned with how safe the blood supply out there is. In the United States, most donors are taken as long as they are not sick on the day they donate. Perhaps further questioning of donors, or testing of blood, is needed to help prevent future severe or deadly reactions after blood transfusion. As always, Inserra & Kelley Law Offices strives to inform the consumer out there to prevent needless illness, injury, or worse.