Replacing the baby’s blood with blood from a blood bank. This special transfusion takes a small amount of the baby’s blood out and replaces it with an equal amount of banked blood. This process is repeated many times over until essentially all of the baby’s blood has been replaced. Exchange transfusion is usually done through an umbilical arterial and umbilical venous catheter. An exchange transfusion is done when the baby’s bilirubin level is dangerously high or when the baby has abnormally low levels of blood clotting factors.
This procedure can be life-saving, but it also carries with it chances of metabolic problems such as high potassium and low calcium in the blood. Other problems sometimes seen are bleeding and infection. The complication rate for a specific infant varies according to the child’s condition and the skill of the health care team. The quoted risk of death for this is usually about 1 percent. In my experience, the actual risk for most infants is less than 1percent.
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