What is a blood transfusion?
Blood transfusion is a medical treatment that replaces blood lost through injury, surgery, or disease. The blood goes through a tube from a bag to an intravenous (IV) catheter and into your vein.
When is a blood transfusion needed?
You may need a blood transfusion if you lose too much blood, such as through:
If you have an illness in which your
Is a blood transfusion safe?
Blood used for transfusions in the United States is very safe and generally free from disease. Donated blood is carefully tested. It is very rare to get a disease through a blood transfusion.
Getting the wrong blood type by accident is the main risk in a blood transfusion, but it is rare. Getting the wrong blood type happens in about 1 out of 14,000 transfusions.
Some people bank their own blood a few weeks before they have surgery. If they need a transfusion during surgery, they can receive their own banked blood. This reduces the risk of disease and transfusion reaction from donated blood.
If you have many blood transfusions, you are more likely to have problems from
You may have a mild allergic reaction even if you get the correct blood type. Signs of a reaction include:
A mild reaction can be scary, but it rarely is dangerous if it's treated quickly.
What are blood types, and why are they important?
The most important blood type classification systems are the ABO system and the Rh system. A, B, AB, and O are the
If you get blood in a transfusion that isn't the right type, you may have a transfusion reaction. A mild transfusion reaction rarely is dangerous, but you must get treatment quickly. A severe transfusion reaction can be deadly.
How is blood collected?
Blood banks collect blood from volunteer donors. Before they donate, volunteers must answer questions about their current health, health history, and any diseases they may have been exposed to through travel to foreign countries, sexual behavior, or drug use. Only people who pass this survey are allowed to donate blood.
Donated blood is then carefully tested for certain diseases and to find out the blood type. If there is any chance that the blood may not be safe to use, it is thrown away.
Most blood that passes the tests is then split into its components and sent out for use.
Blood and its components can be stored or used for only a short time before they must be thrown away. This is why blood banks are always looking for donors.
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