The do’s and don’ts of blood transfusion

Hiba Nauman Oct 04 2015

Blood transfusion is the process by which blood, or some of its components (platelets, plasma etc) are transferred from one person (the donor) to another person (the recipient), intravenously.

You could need blood transfusion if you lost a lot of blood via surgery; trauma or a disease that destroys blood cells e.g. hemolytic anemia. If you suffer from a disease that could causes blood loss, then also you are in need of a blood transfusion, such as a bleeding ulcer.


Blood carries oxygen to every part of your body. Oxygen is important for all the vital roles, and red blood cells carry oxygen to every cell of the body. Blood also contains white blood cells that help to fight against pathogenic invasions. We aren’t aware but our body is constantly fighting against possible invasions from the environment. Platelets are an integral part of blood that forms clots and plugs to stop bleeding at site of injury. Plasma in the blood is the medium in which all the cells flow. If any of these components are lost the entire hemolytic environment of the body is disrupted.

Make sure your doctor knows your correct blood group before a blood transfusion. If you have a genetic blood disorder, you should avoid donating blood. If you have any other blood conditions, make sure you inform your doctor before getting a blood transfusion.

All medical history should be given to your physician honestly before you donate or receive blood, in order to avoid long term health issues which can either be fatal for yourself or the person receiving your blood.


Mostly the post-transfusion reactions occur a few minutes after you have received the blood. These include:

  • back pain
  • blood in your urine
  • chills
  • fainting or dizziness
  • fever
  • flank pain
  • skin flushing

The antibodies in the receiver’s blood can at time react with the transfused blood. This can occur to either red blood cells or white blood cells. You can have an allergic reaction to a blood transfusion as well. These symptoms can include hives and itching. This reaction type is often treated with antihistamines.

If the transfused blood has bacteria, that can also cause reaction. At times excess blood is given, in case there is an overload on the heart.

Transfusion reactions are not always serious. However, some can be life-threatening. Serious complications include:

  • acute kidney failure
  • anemia
  • lung problems (pulmonary edema)
  • shock—a life-threatening condition that results from lack of adequate blood flow

Your physician would prescribe IV drugs or fluids to lower the reactions.

Make sure you go to a reliable hospital and physician before getting blood transfusion. The institute should have a scanning machine for blood before transfusion in order to avoid mishaps in the future. These mishaps are often temporary but at times can become fatal. So take every precaution on your part before receiving blood.


For a person who is donating blood, it is important that you know the condition of your own health. Make sure you don’t suffer from any systemic disease such as diabetes, or high cholesterol. Besides that, make sure you aren’t undergoing a viral infection such as HIV, Hepatitis and the likes. Be wary of any other bacteria or fungal infection that could put the recipient’s health into danger.

The donor should also be aware of his present hemoglobin levels as well as make sure you are not underweight.

Hiba Nauman

Hiba Nauman:

'Hiba is a dental student with a flair for writing. She takes caffeine very seriously, and loves experimenting with art. She strives to be a dental surgeon someday who not only performs surgeries but also spreads health awareness and free smiles.