Graft-vs-Host Disease (GVHD)

A general term for any disease where something put into someone’s body reacts against that person’s tissues or cells. In general, this happens most commonly in the setting of organ or progenitor cell transplantation, where transplanted lymphocytes or “passenger” lymphocytes (in the setting of organ transplantation, these are lymphocytes that just “ride along” with the organ) attack the transplant recipient’s tissues and/or cells. Transfusion medicine specialists are involved in this form of GVHD in therapeutic settings (such as when implementing photopheresis treatment, but we spend more time preventing Transfusion-associated GVHD, a specific, deadly form of GVHD that occurs after transfusion rather than transplantation (check out episode 013 of the Blood Bank Guy Essentials Podcast for more on TA-GVHD).

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