Fetal Transfusions

What are fetal transfusions?

Sometimes in the course of a pregnancy a procedure needs to be done to evaluate whether the baby is anemic, and if so to treat that anemia. Intrauterine transfusion of red blood cells (RBCs) is indicated to prevent fetal death from severe anemia.

Describe the procedure

We use a thin needle to test the baby for anemia by taking blood from the baby’s umbilical cord (cordocentesis) and give blood if needed. Ultrasound is used to guide the transfusion needle directly into a fetal vessel, such as the umbilical vein, for direct access to the fetal vasculature and transfuse the baby with red blood cells.

Who is a good candidate for fetal transfusions?

Pregnancies affected by red cell alloimmunization (Rh sensitization), other types of isoimmunization, parvovirus infection or inherited RBC disorders may need evaluation for fetal anemia.