The immunological compatibility of blood cells, new therapeutic cells and tissues, and organs between the donor and recipient is one of the key areas of expertise and testing for the Blood Service laboratory. Red cell blood groups, and tissue compatibility of thrombocytes and grafts are all based on the same biological concept and base of expertise: we are looking for the answer to the question which factors between the donor and the recipient affect the compatibility of the transplant.
Active projects within this area of research include:
One of the key tasks of Blood Service operations is to ensure the immunogenetic compatibility of the transfused blood cells – red cells and thrombocytes – and their recipients. This is the only way of ensuring efficient and safe blood transfusions. The Blood Service is also responsible for compatibility testing of transplanted organs, such as livers, kidneys or hearts. Before transplantation, sufficient tissue compatibility must be ensured, so that the recipient's immune response does not identify the transplanted organ as foreign, which may lead to rejection.
In stem cell transplantation (“bone marrow transplantation”) the requirement of tissue compatibility is even stricter: even minor deviations in tissue compatibility may lead to graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), in which the immune cells in the graft recognize the transplant recipient's tissue as foreign and destroy it. Some of the patients die of GvHD.