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Understanding Blood and Blood Components

Bloodless Chart

Learn more about blood and 'minor blood fractions' with this helpful interactive chart.

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Bloodless Medicine

Rh o(D) Immune Globulin

by Judy Sullivan, RN.

What is Rh o(D) Immune Globulin?

It is a medication given by way of injection. It is known by a number of brand names including RhoGAM.

Why would Rh o(D) Immune Globulin be prescribed for me?

There are two main reasons. One is if you have a blood disorder called immune thrombocytopenic purpura which is sometimes abbreviated ITP. For this condition, Rh o(D) Immune Globulin may help a patient to maintain proper platelet counts and avoid problems related to this condition.

The other main reason that Rh o(D) Immune Globulin might be given is to a woman that is pregnant and is Rh negative.

What does it mean to be Rh negative?

Each person’s blood either does or does not have an antigen called ‘the Rh factor’. Persons who have this antigen are considered Rh positive. Persons who do not have this factor are considered Rh negative. Women who are Rh negative and become pregnant will be advised to have Rh o(D) Immune Globulin administered to them. They may have it given to them again after a child birth.

Why is Rh o(D) Immune Globulin given to these patients?

Basically it is to protect the health of the baby or of any subsequent baby that the woman may become pregnant with. Rh o(D) Immune Globulin prevents the mother from forming antibodies which could act to destroy the blood in future babies. A baby who is born Rh positive to an Rh negative mother who was not treated with Rh o(D) immune globulin may have a very serious condition which may result in blood transfusions being required for the baby.

How do I know if I need treatment?

Screening for Rh factor is done routinely during a woman’s visits to her obstetrician prior to child birth. This is just one of a number of reasons why a woman should see an obstetrician once she is pregnant. Her doctor can discuss with her indications, risks and benefits of the use of this medication in much greater specifics and with application to her particular case.

Are there any special considerations for using Rh o(D) Immune Globulin for the patient requiring Bloodless Medicine?

Appropriate use of Rh o(D) Immune Globulin is very useful in mitigating the effects of conditions which might otherwise result in blood transfusions. For patients who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, they would each need to decide how they feel about accepting immune globulins which are considered by these patients to be blood fractions.

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