Dr. Manasi Rege
JR1 (Dept. of Pharmacology)
L.T.M.M.C. and G.H., Mumbai.
We are linked by blood, and blood is memory without language.
-Joyce Carol Oates
William Harvey described the systemic circulation in detail in 1682 and soon after, the first blood transfusion was attempted. As we all know, Karl Landsteiner is known as the father of transfusion medicine. Since then, it has been an upcoming branch. India offers 3 year post graduate courses of M.D. and D.N.B. in transfusion medicine to medical graduates in reputed institutes such as AIIMS and Tata Memorial Hospital.
The job of a typical transfusion medicine resident revolves around immunohematology, consisting of blood typing and cross matching as well as managing transfusions, collection of single donor platelets (SDP), random donor platelets (RDP), granulocyte extract, etc. It is an emerging field with development of newer techniques in recent times which makes it an ever challenging field with no end to learning. The presence of transfusion medicine experts may reduce the need for a pathologist to making decisions pertaining to blood transfusions, especially in conditions such as leukaemia, lymphomas and research pertaining to blood and blood products gives an added insight to this field.
A doctor specialising in transfusion medicine can typically expect a job as a Blood Bank Officer in a hospital or a Transfusion Medicine Officer in a government or a private set up. In addition, doctors can explore the path of entrepreneurship by setting up their own centre for procedures such as apheresis, stem cell extraction and bone marrow transplants. They can also be the authority for the line of action in various haematological malignancies.
However, like every other profession, this branch too is known to have some flip sides. Most of the tasks are machine mediated as a result of which patient contact is relatively low as compared to other clinical branches, which brings the branch closer to non-clinical in terms of patient contact. In addition, a set up with cutting edge technology is expensive and hence a financially risky option to explore which is why most doctors end up with jobs in hospitals rather than their own set up and hence, the decision of taking up this branch should be a calculated one with all these factors in mind.