EGA (most blood bankers pronounce it “EE-guh”) is short for “EDTA Glycine-Acid.” This reagent, fairly common in immunohematology reference labs, is used to remove IgG antibodies from the surface of red blood cells. This is especially useful in settings where the RBCs are coated by autoantibodies (as in warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia) or alloantibodies (as in hemolytic disease of the fetus/newborn). In those settings, it may be difficult to use the red cells in various ways, such as performing autoadsorption or, in some cases, phenotyping the RBCs.
EGA is incubated with the red cells for a short time, and is fairly effective in removing IgG so the red cells can then be used in the ways mentioned above. It is important to note that EGA damages certain antigens on the surface of the red cell, most notably antigens in the Kell blood group system, so Kell phenotypes are useless on EGA-treated RBCs.
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