Blood transfusion: What do you need to know?

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Blood transfusion is a method to replace lost blood due to injury or surgery. It’s a medical procedure in which donated blood collected from the donor is passed through a narrow tube to the receiver through the vein of the body. This is a life-saving procedure, and it is carried out at times whenever a patient is in urgent need of blood. A blood transfusion can also be performed to transform some vital blood components into the body whenever a person is in need of it.

Blood transfusions do not cause any complications. When complications occur, they can be easily recovered with the help of medicines.

Need for Blood transfusion

Blood transfusion is necessary for those who have the following problems:

  • A bleeding disorders like Thrombocytopenia and Hemophilia
  • An injury that results in major blood loss
  • Heavy blood loss after childbirth
  • Kidney failure causes blood cell production problems
  • Illnesses that cause poor quality RBCs

Blood has different components like:

  1. Red Blood cells (RBCs) or Erythrocytes – These cells carry oxygen to the body tissues.  
  2. White Blood cells (WBCs) or Leucocytes – These cells are part of the body’s immune system, that helps your body to fight against infections.  
  3. Platelets or Thrombocytes – These cells play a major role in blood clotting.

A transfusion provides the necessary blood components that a person needs. Red blood cells are the commonly used blood components for transfusion.

Types of blood transfusion

There are four types of blood transfusion:

Red blood cell transfusion

Red blood cell transfusion is done to a person when they experience blood loss due to anaemia and blood disorder.

Plasma transfusion

Plasma consists of important proteins that are vital for health. Plasma transfusion is recommended for a person who experiences serious burns, infections and liver failure.

Platelet transfusion

This transfusion is administered to people who have lower platelet counts, such as platelet disorder and chemotherapy.

Complete blood transfusion

Complete blood transfusion is essential for a person who experiences severe haemorrhage and requires all the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

What are the procedures involved in blood transfusion? 

Blood transfusions can be done in a hospital and outpatient clinic. Blood transfusion usually takes 3 to 4 hours for the procedure. After a blood transfusion, the patient receives the same blood component tantamount to his/her previous blood component before the injury/accident.

Common risks involved in blood transfusion

Blood transfusions are safe; occasionally, there are some complications involved in transfusion. Mild complications are expected post blood transfusion. But those complications can be solved within a few days through proper medications.

Some of the expected side effects of blood transfusion are allergic reactions and mild fevers.

Other side effects of blood transfusion  

Acute immune hemolytic reaction

The body’s immune system attacks the transfused Red Blood Cells due to irrelevant blood matches. The attacked cells, when passed as blood into the kidneys, can damage the function of the kidneys.

Delayed hemolytic reaction

The delayed hemolytic reaction is quite similar to the condition of acute immune hemolytic reaction. This reaction has the possibility of reducing the Red Blood Cell count of the body.

Preparation for pre-blood transfusion 

The test will be performed to determine the blood type, such as A, B, AB or O. There are unfamiliar blood groups like Rh-positive and Rh-negative. The blood donated via transfusion must comply with your natural blood type.

Tell your doctor if you have an allergic reaction to a blood transfusion.

Pre-blood transfusion

The patient’s body will be thoroughly examined by the doctors.

Before blood transfusion, a health expert will remove all the white blood cells from your body. This is because it has the risk of carrying viruses. After examination, the doctor will finalize the pathway for transferring blood from donor blood to the patient. An initial identification check will be carried out before the transmission.

During blood transfusion 

A needle with an intravenous line is inserted into any one of your blood vessels. The blood stored in the plastic bag enters your bloodstream. You should be either seated down or laid down for the procedure. Roughly blood transfusion takes one to four hours.

A nurse will monitor the procedure and may take details of your blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. Intimate the nurse if you develop any of the following symptoms.

  • Chest or back pain
  • Feeling discomfort
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Unusual headache

Post blood transfusion 

The needle and tube connected to the veins of the patient will be removed. You may expect a scar around the needle site, but this will disappear in the short term.

Contact your doctor if you develop any shortness of breath immediately after a blood transfusion.

Summing up

Blood transfusion is a simple procedure that replaces lost blood in the patient. Before a complete blood transfusion, do blood testing to make sure your body is good enough for blood transfusion. Sometimes, your body may show different reactions after a blood transfusion. But mostly, it will not be a serious concern.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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