Transfusion associated graft versus host disease (TA-GVHD) is a rare but commonly fatal complication of transfusion of cellular blood products, which usually occurs in immunosuppressed individuals following transfusion and subsequent engraftment of viable T lymphocytes. Very rarely it may arise in apparently immunocompetent individuals. A case is reported of TA-GVHD in a non-immunocompromised 60 year old white man, resulting from red cell transfusion after coronary artery bypass grafting. HLA typing confirmed homozygosity of the donor for an HLA type shared by the recipient—the classic scenario for the development of TA-GVHD in immunocompetent individuals. The patient died 21 days after transfusion. There is a perceived increased risk of TA-GVHD following bypass grafting and other surgical procedures where cardiopulmonary bypass is required. TA-GVHD is probably underreported and the incidence in the UK is felt to be too low to warrant routine irradiation of cellular products for this group of patients. Clinicians, pathologists, and transfusion centres should be aware of this rare but devastating complication of blood transfusion after cardiac surgery.
- graft versus host disease
- blood transfusion
- coronary artery bypass graft
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