Direct Fetal Blood Transfusion

Also known as Intrauterine transfusion (IUT), the procedure is a lifesaving intervention when the fetus is affected with severe anaemia. The most common situation where direct fetal blood transfusion is done is when the mother is Rh negative and the fetus is Rh positive. In about 1-2% of such pregnancies, the mother will produce antibodies (attacking proteins) that will go into the blood of the fetus and cause destruction of the red blood cells of the fetus. This makes the fetus anaemic and when it becomes severe, the anaemia can be lethal for the fetus. Correction of anaemia through direct fetal transfusion is the treatment of choice. Depending on the stage of pregnancy at which the fetus becomes anaemic, two to four transfusions may be required during the pregnancy. Typically, the decision to do the procedure is taken after analysing various factors including what happened in a previous pregnancy, the blood flow velocity in the fetal brain vessel, and the stage of pregnancy. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis. The total duration of the procedure is around 1 hour, followed by another 1 hour of observation under bed rest.