Inquiry after newborn gets wrong blood type

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2008, 12:00am

Queen Elizabeth Hospital has set up an investigation team to see why a premature newborn was given a transfusion of a blood type that he should not have received.

The baby boy was of group B and his mother group O, and he still carried 'a small amount' of his mother's anti-B antibodies at birth.

A hospital spokesman said last night that group O blood should have been chosen for the transfusion on July 18, five days after he was born.

But the hospital's pathology department found the baby had received group B blood.

The spokesman said newborns might have some of their mother's blood group antibodies even though they would diminish with time. Therefore, units of a blood group compatible with both the mother and the baby would be selected if these babies needed a transfusion.

This was to avoid haemolysis - separation of haemoglobin from the red cells - due to a reaction of maternal antibodies on donor red cells.

He said immediate blood tests and a review of serial laboratory test results showed there was only a very low and falling level of the mother's anti-B antibodies remaining in the baby's blood before the transfusion, and a clinical examination showed no complication or adverse reaction.

The baby was in stable condition, the spokesman said.

'The hospital has set up an investigation team to review the cross-matching procedure in the blood bank for newborns and other special cases as well as the checking mechanisms to avoid recurrence.'

The staff involved in the incident have been counselled.

The spokesman said the case had been reported to hospital management and the Hospital Authority in line with policy in such cases.

He said the hospital had 'clearly' explained the case and conveyed an apology to the parents, and the baby would be closely monitored.