Monday, February 10, 2014

My Son Had ABO Incompatibility - What Is This Blood Disorder?

The day after I gave birth to my eldest son, Casey's uncle and godfather, his doctor visited me in my room and informed me that my baby boy had jaundice which caused his skin to turn yellowish. I asked why it turned yellow and she said it was because his bilirubin count was way past the normal count and that he had to be placed under a bililight to reduce the amount of bilirubin in the baby's body.

I then asked the lady doctor what happens if the amount of bilirubin did not go down. What's the next step? She said, the baby will have to undergo a blood transfusion to completely clean his blood and stop the yellowing of the skin. I asked her what's causing all these and she said my baby had ABO incompatibility. She explained that me and my baby had different blood types which was the root cause of the blood disorder that affected my baby.

As a first time mom, I wondered what all those medical terms mean. Jaundice. Bilirubin. Bililight. ABO incompatibility. The brief time the pediatrician spent in my room when she did her daily rounds was not enough to ask her more questions about my baby's illness. Maybe I was just too excited about the coming of this baby boy who we waited for almost three years to finally come into this world. The idea of a transfusion I just placed at the back of my mind. It will happen if it must happen. But thank God it did not happen. He was making great progress in the nursery room with his bilirubin count gradually decreasing.

However, we had to go home without him because his pediatrician wanted the yellowing of the skin completely gone before he leaves the hospital. After four days we went back to the hospital to finally pick up our baby in the nursery.  

So, what is ABO incompatibility?  ABO stands for blood types A, B and O. ABO incompatibility usually happens to mothers who have O blood types because they are the type that produce large amounts of the lgG antibodies that cause hemolysis or the breaking of red blood cells. The incompatibility happens when the mother who has blood type O gives birth to a baby who has blood type A, B or AB.

Blood type O mothers have anti-A and anti-B antibodies in their blood. When a woman is pregnant with a type A, B or AB baby, the antibodies get in contact with the placenta that protects the baby. These antibodies attack the red blood cells and cause them to break and spill into the surrounding environment. The break down of red blood cells causes anemia and  jaundice or the yellowing of the skin as well as increases the amount of bilirubin in the body.