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The truth about blood

There is no doubt that, when necessary, donated blood save lives. But a growing number of medical professionals are questioning whether, in many cases, the benefits of a blood transfusion outweigh the risks. While dozens of studies suggest that transfusions are linked to serious risks, many experts say the current research is inconclusive.

This year the Centers for Disease Control launched the United States’ first national program to track problems related to transfusions in hospitals across the country. Working with AABB (formerly known as American Association of Blood Banks) the CDC hopes to get a better picture of what’s going wrong and what’s going right in transfusion medicine. Barbee Whitaker, director of data and special programs at AABB, talked to Need to Know about the importance of this new “hemovigilance” program.