Following the successful transfer of blood onto a foetus, medical professionals at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) are celebrating yet another medical milestone.

A group of four doctors, including specialists Drs. Rosa Chemwey, Flavia Ogutu, Ikol Adung’o, and Kunjira Murayi, an Interventional Radiologist, undertook the extremely delicate technique known as the Intrauterine Fetal Transfusion.

Nurses Benson Nyankuru, Redempata Mumo, and reproductive health clinical officer Tony Wainaina assisted them in the procedure.

Intrauterine transfusion involves injecting red blood cells into the foetus with anemia, that is, a low red blood cell count, from a donor. The surgeon places a needle into the mother’s abdomen, then into the umbilical vein or the abdomen of the developing foetus after using ultrasound to determine its location and that of the placenta.

The needle inserts red blood cells into the foetus that are compatible with its blood type. Until the foetus is ready to be born, fetal infusions of blood may need to be repeated every few weeks.

In addition to local anesthetic and antibiotics, the mother is given IV sedation, which also sedates the foetus. To inhibit movement, the foetus can receive extra medication.

Dr. Chemwey said that the mother had only one successful birth out of her four pregnancies. She added that the infant’s severe anemia was caused by “rhesus alloimmunization,” which occurs when a pregnant woman’s rhesus-negative red blood cells are exposed to rhesus-positive red blood cells through the placenta, activating the mother’s immune system.

According to experts, the transfusion process takes between 30 minutes and an hour.

Dr. Evanson Kamuri, the chief executive officer of Kenyatta National Hospital, praised the KNH team for the accomplishment.

August 1, 2023

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