A newborn with graft-vs-host (GVH) disease following an exchange transfusion was treated by attempting to eradicate the incompatible graft and to reconstitute the child hematologically and immunologically with a bone marrow transplant. The patient was a female term infant (blood group B, Rh+ Coombs test positive) who received a one-unit group O, Rh- exchange transfusion from an unrelated female donor for hyperbilirubinemia due to ABO incompatibility on day 2. Signs of acute GVH disease began on day 8 and the clinical diagnosis was supported by skin biopsy. With antithymocyte globulin and high dose dexamethasone, the GVH reaction improved somewhat. Cyclophosphamide, 200 mg/kg total dose, was given over four days followed by a marrow graft from a brother who was HLA-A, B identical, and probably also D locus compatible in mixed lymphocyte culture. All signs of GVH resolved with cyclophosphamide treatment and hematologic reconstitution was evident by 14 days after transplant. Two weeks later the GVH reaction and aplastic anemia recurred and Y chromatin was detected in only 6% of marrow cells. The infant died on day 80. Autopsy showed disseminated candidiasis, disseminated cytomegalovirus infection, thymic dysplasia, hypoplastic marrow, and other histopathologic changes consistent with GVH disease. The persistence of female cells in blood and bone marrow and the destruction of the reconstituted marrow suggest that the original incompatible transfusion-derived graft was not eliminated and that it ultimately rejected the histocompatible marrow graft.

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