Blood Transfusion

What is blood transfusion?

Blood transfusion involves giving blood to a patient via an intravenous (IV) line.

Why is blood given?

Blood is given for several reasons, the most common being to add an oxygen carrying substance (hemoglobin). Without hemoglobin, oxygen cannot reach the cells of the body in sufficient amounts to support life. The underlying illness and condition of the patient determine whether the doctor needs to give blood. Critically ill or injured patients frequently require blood transfusions even when obvious blood loss is not apparent. Typically, these patients do not produce blood normally and the blood cells have a shortened life span. In addition, critically ill or injured patients require frequent blood tests.

Why is blood red?

Blood is red due to the presence of a type of hemoglobin called oxyhemoglobin. If the blood is red, it shows that the hemoglobin is carrying adequate amounts of oxygen. If the color is blue, it indicates that there is less oxygen in the blood.

Can blood from anyone be used for a transfusion?

No, patients can only receive blood from someone whose blood is of similar type. Humans have four types of blood, designated blood type A, AB, B and O. In addition, there are two subtypes called the Rh factor the Rh factor is either positive ( ) or negative (-). Blood used for transfusions must have the same blood type.

Does a blood transfusion hurt?

Not usually.

Are there any potential complications associated with blood transfusion?

Normally, blood transfusions are very safe. The most common problems occurring during a blood transfusion are fever and chills. These are usually minor and do not require the blood transfusion to be stopped. Rarely, a transfusion will need to be stopped because a severe transfusion reaction is suspected. Blood supplied for transfusions undergoes substantial testing to prevent any diseases from being transmitted. However, there is a very small chance that blood can be contaminated with disease. The most commonly sited diseases are viral - the hepatitis virus, which may cause liver disease, and the HIV virus, which is responsible for causing AIDS. Blood transfusions may cause immunosuppression (weakening of the immune system) and thus place a patient at increased risk for infections. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have specific questions.

Blood transfusion bag