HomeHealth A-ZBlood Transfusion- Important, Types, Benefits and Risks

Blood Transfusion- Important, Types, Benefits and Risks

When a patient needs additional blood to support his/her body system, the procedure is medically termed blood transfusion. Blood or essential blood components, like red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets, can be transfused directly into a patient’s veins using an intravenous line (IV). 

Usually, a person needs more blood when they are bleeding profusely due to an accident, blood loss during surgery, or a specific illness.

About Blood Transfusion Process

Many people regularly donate blood to patients who are in urgent need of blood. This donated blood needs to be stored carefully in specially designed bags at a specific temperature. 

When a doctor prescribes blood transfusion for a patient, they are given blood by inserting a needle into their veins. The other end of this tube is attached to the blood or blood product containing bag . Then blood slowly passes on from the bag to the circulatory system of that patient.

Why Is Blood Transfusion Required?

Here are a few reasons why blood transfusion may be necessary.

  1. Surgery: A large volume of blood is lost during a major surgery, which should be replaced with the help of immediate blood transfusion.
  2. Anemia: If a patient is suffering from acute anemia, the red blood cell count in their body drops much below the normal levels. Hence, the only way to save their life is to pass lots of fresh red blood cells into their body.
  3. Cancer: Generally, patients who have leukemia or blood cancer are most likely to suffer from severe anemia. Moreover, chemotherapy and radiation often adversely affect the bone marrow and reduce their capacity to produce red blood cells. Thus, timely blood transfusion can save these cancer patients.
  4. Internal bleeding: An injury in the digestive tract caused by an ulcer or other serious digestive disorders may cause profuse bleeding. So, the patient may sometimes need a blood transfusion.
  5. Accidental injuries: When a person is severely injured during an accident, plenty of blood flows out through the punctured blood vessels. Hence, that person needs a blood transfusion to make up for that considerable blood loss.  
  6. Serious illness: Certain blood disorders, like sickle cell disease and hemophilia, often cause anemia due to steady blood loss. So, a blood transfusion may be necessary to save the lives of such patients.

Different Types of Blood Transfusion

There are several types of blood transfusion. Some of them are:

  1. Red blood cell transfusion: This type of blood transfusion is the most common, as people suffering from anemia or other diseases require only the replacement of red blood cells. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which imparts the red color of blood and is needed for carrying oxygen. All patients undergoing surgeries also need the transfusion of red blood cells to maintain normal hemoglobin levels.
  2. Platelet transfusion: Platelets are essential blood components that help the blood clot fast and prevent too much bleeding. Platelet transfusion is mainly required to treat cancer patients whose platelet count often drops below the average level .
  3. Plasma transfusion: The plasma or the liquid part of blood contains protein that contributes to blood clotting. Plasma is usually separated from all blood particles and stored for a maximum of 1 year in a frozen condition, turning it into cryoprecipitate. Plasmapheresis is the procedure of donating plasma, in which only plasma is separated from the blood, and the remaining blood components are returned to the donor’s body.

Benefits of Blood Transfusion

When your red blood cell count is restored to normal through blood transfusion, you can be sure of getting adequate oxygen supply to your cells. Sufficient red blood cells also ensure a healthy heart.

  • Since the normal platelet count is essential to prevent excessive bleeding from a wound, platelet transfusion can prevent uncontrolled bleeding .
  • Plasma transfusion of cryoprecipitates also helps in preventing bleeding when the blood fails to clot naturally.

Risks Involved in the Process of Blood Transfusion

Many patients experience a fever that may last up to 5 hours after the blood transfusion is over. They may also experience chest pain, uneasiness, and nausea while their body temperature is high.

  • Some people may be allergic to the transfused blood even if the blood group is matching. So they may suffer from itchiness and hives on their body as part of allergic reactions during or shortly after the transfusion procedure.
  • Acute immune hemolytic reactions may occur if the body system refuses to accept the newly transfused blood. Then the patient will suffer from various symptoms, like fever, lower back pain, chills, nausea, and darkened urine, until treated with medications.
  • Delayed hemolytic reactions may show up much later after the transfusion process is over. Its symptoms are almost the same as that found in the case of an acute immune hemolytic reaction.
  • If the blood is not thoroughly checked before transfusion, the patient may be infected  with AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or some bacterial contaminations. Zika virus and West Nile virus can also be transmitted through the transfused blood, though such cases are sporadic.
  • An anaphylactic reaction can happen immediately after the transfusion process, and it may even be fatal for a patient. It may cause the face to swell, cause a sore throat, breathing troubles, and a sudden drop in the blood pressure level.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What preparations can you expect before undergoing the blood transfusion procedure?

If you are supposed to have a blood transfusion, a nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse rate, and body temperature to make sure you are healthy. Medical professionals will also check the donor’s blood to ensure that it is safe for your body.

How much time does it take to complete the process of blood transfusion?

The blood transfusion process’ depends on the volume of blood to be transfused to a patient. The doctor can decide the amount of blood to be given to their patient, according to the present physical conditions of the person receiving the blood transfusion.

Is there any alternative procedure to blood transfusion?

Some medicines can help in the faster production of blood in your body. However, excessive blood loss should be followed by immediate blood transfusion; otherwise, the patient may face severe consequences and even loss of life.

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