Not much is understood about TRALI, but it is characterized by the victim’s lungs filling with fluid and unable to breather. And, since most blood transfusion recipients are already ill to begin with, the condition sometimes goes unrecognized until it is too late.
"This is a bigger problem than we were aware of." - Dr.
Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer of the American Red Cross.
TRALI has become such a serious problem, in fact, that the number of reported cases have doubled in just the past two years. In response to this serious issue, the Lewis and Clark Region of the American Red Cross is working toward using only the plasma from male donors for those in need of a transfusion.
The connection between female plasma and TRALI still is not fully understood. It is believed that the antibodies created by the female body during pregnancy has a negative reaction with the white blood cells of the recipient.
The plasma of women still has its important uses. Rather than being used for blood transfusions, it can still be used to make life-saving medications for individuals with blood disorders. In addition, female blood donors are still vitally needed because more red blood cell transfusions are needed than plasma each year. In addition, the number of male donors is far from enough to cover the need.