Table of Contents
International Scholarly Research Notices
Volume 2016, Article ID 1268149, 5 pages
Research Article

Exchange Transfusion for Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 2006 to 2011

Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag Box 39, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa

Received 23 November 2015; Accepted 2 February 2016

Academic Editor: Thomas Hegyi

Copyright © 2016 Daynia E. Ballot and Gilbert Rugamba. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Severe hyperbilirubinaemia requiring exchange transfusion has become less common in recent years; however, kernicterus still occurs. The aim of this study was to review babies undergoing exchange transfusion for severe hyperbilirubinaemia in a Johannesburg hospital. Methodology. This was a retrospective review of babies who required exchange transfusion in both the neonatal and the paediatric wards from June 1, 2006, to December 31, 2011. Results. There were 64 patients who underwent 67 exchange transfusions. Isoimmune haemolysis (both Rh and ABO incompatibility) was the cause of jaundice in 9/64 (14%). Most babies who underwent exchange transfusion were sick or preterm and were admitted in hospital after birth (38/64; 59.5%); three of these babies died, but not during the exchange transfusion (3/38; 7.9%); all three had signs suggestive of neonatal sepsis. The remaining 26 babies (40.6%) were readmitted to the paediatric wards for exchange transfusion. Six of these babies (6/26; 23.0%) had signs of kernicterus. The most significant complication of exchange transfusion was apnoea requiring mechanical ventilation in three patients (3/64; 4.6%). Conclusion. Despite a relatively low number of babies undergoing exchange transfusion, kernicterus still occurs and must be prevented. Proper protocols for screening and management of severe hyperbilirubinaemia need to be enforced.