Clinical Transfusion Practice: Small steps and giant leaps



This Grand Rounds presentation was originally given as The Ruth Sanger Oration at the Blood conference in 2022.  The Ruth Sanger Medal is awarded annually by the Australian and New Zealand Society of blood transfusion to someone who has made a significant contribution to the field of transfusion medicine. It is made in memory of the extraordinary contributions of Ruth Sanger, an Australian scientist and blood group serologist whose meticulous work led to significant increases in our knowledge of blood groups, blood-group antibodies, and the genetics of blood groups.

In similar fashion, through the hard work of many in the field, the last 30 years has been one of significant improvement in the clinical practice of transfusion medicine.

In most cases, improvement has been made in small steps. Incremental improvements have occurred through the application of scientific knowledge but also through improvements in the systems which deliver health care. This Grand Round will touch on improvements in the safety of fresh blood products and improvements in hospital practice which arose through advocacy and the systematic collection of data.

Dr Savoia will describe how in her area of clinical practice, obstetric and fetal haematology, as well as the small steps, there have been some giant leaps arising from new knowledge, application of the scientific method and sometimes good fortune. The introduction of Rh D immunoglobulin as immunoprophylaxis, and improved understanding of gestational alloimmune liver disease are examples.

Many people have contributed to this work and this Grand Round will highlight the contributions of a number of Australians including those known to the RCH audience.



Dr Helen Savoia graduated MBBS from the University of Melbourne in 1987 and completed training in haematology and transfusion medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the then Red Cross Blood Bank Victoria.

Helen has spent the last two decades at the Royal Children’s and Royal Women’s Hospitals in Melbourne with her clinical practice revolving around diagnostic haematology and transfusion medicine services focusing on the needs of pregnant women, their babies and children.

Helen served on the Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion (ANZSBT) Council (2001-2007) and is an inaugural member of the Victorian Blood Matters Advisory Committee. She has participated in the development of best practice guidelines including the original NHMRC/ANZSBT Clinical Practice Guidelines (2001), the NBA Patient Blood Management guidelines, Chairing the Clinical Reference Group for Module 5 (2015) and with the International Collaboration for Transfusion Medicine Guidelines.

Helen is a technical assessor for NATA, a Haematology examiner for the RCPA, a Board Director of Public Pathology Australia and a member of the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council.

Comments are closed.

Previous post Next post