What causes allergic transfusion reactions?

Updated: Jan 12, 2021
  • Author: S Gerald Sandler, MD, FCAP, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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The clinical presentation of rash, pruritus, and/or urticaria during a transfusion suggests that the recipient was exposed to a foreign substance in the blood product to which the recipient is sensitized. Usually, a specific allergen is not identified. Studies in the medical literature suggest that causes of allergic reactions include polymorphic proteins in the donors' plasma, food (eg, nuts, tomatoes), or medications (eg, penicillin) that the donor ingested immediately before collection of the implicated blood product.

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