What cost over £600 a pint in 2000? I was stunned to find the answer and only found out by chance. I came across the information whilst checking up a fact I had been given regarding the cost of clotting factor which may be needed if a woman has a massive haemorrhage. Well, the answer to my initial question is that this was the price then of an adult blood transfusion. Having discovered this extraordinary fact I attempted to update my information, but failed. However, I did discover that on The National Blood Service’s website you can look and find out how the UK’s blood stocks are doing, day-to-day, A+ve is looking good, AB-ve is rather worrying and universal donor blood, O-ve is rather low this evening.
Anyway, back to the clotting factor which initiated my rambles through blood products. Basically, if someone loses a huge amount of blood, which can occur frighteningly quickly in a pregnant (antepartum) or recently delivered (postpartum) woman a complication may arise where, due to the overwhelming amount of blood lost, over 1500mls in a massive obstetric haemorrhage, the circulating blood loses it’s ability to clot effectively and so a cascade of events happen which may lead to a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation where bleeding then occurs from multiple sites. Once it becomes obvious, and following several other actions, that the bleeding from the uterus is uncontrollable the decision may be reached that the only way to save the woman’s life is to perform an hysterectomy, a drastic, fertility ending but life-saving solution. However, there is evidence that using a blood product, a clotting factor, may assist with the treatment of the haemorrhage and the prevention of clotting problems, why isn’t it always used? Well, it is not immediately available within every unit, it has to be requested from a centre who hold it and, wait for it…I was told that it costs twenty thousand pounds. Yes, that’s right, £20,000, enough said. That can’t be right, or can it?
Image from The Franklin Institute.