Blood Transfusion: Benefits, Risks, and Safety

A healthy blood supply is vital to life. It carries oxygen and nutrients and plays an important role in regulating most body functions, including temperature.  A blood transfusion can be given when a person’s body cannot produce healthy blood. Transfusions of blood are routine procedures. What happens during a blood transfusion? Are there any benefits to a blood transfusion? Who would need a blood transfusion?

Benefits Of Blood Transfusion

Blood transfusions can happen if you have low levels of hemoglobin and that is anemia. Additionally, you may experience bleeding if you’ve been in surgery or have had a device inserted, or if you have internal bleeding caused by anticoagulants such as aspirin or warfarin.

Blood Transfusion: Benefits, Risks & Safety

Testing blood is performed at one of five national processing centers, and blood components are separated. Each unit is separated into red blood cells, plasma and platelets, and white blood cells during the donation process. Transfusions can treat several blood disorders: red blood cells are used to reverse anemia or restore severe bleeding, platelets and plasma are given to prevent bleeding that occurs from drugs or surgery, and white blood cells are administered to treat certain disorders.

You may not know when to have a transfusion when you are anemic. Hemoglobin thresholds can be used to guide treatment for people who set them. Despite low hemoglobin levels of 70 to 80 grams per liter (g/l), most people can tolerate them quite well.

An adequate level is between 120 and 175 g/l, depending on your gender and other factors. The ability of your heart to cope with certain tasks can, however, be affected by various factors, including heart failure, angina, and bleeding. Unless you have high blood pressure or are clinically unstable, a transfusion is not necessary for bleeding.

We need blood to survive. The absence of blood or one of its components can be life-threatening. In addition to supplying the body with blood, blood components provide the following benefits as follows:

  • Your heart and brain receive oxygen from red blood cells.
  • Low platelet counts can cause bleeding, so platelets help to control that.
  • Blood plasma and cryoprecipitate can also reduce bleeding.

Risks And Complications

Hospitals perform blood transfusions. Before any transfusion, the doctor collects a blood sample and runs a complete blood count test to see if the patient requires it. A needle is inserted into a blood vessel to insert an intravenous line (IV).

Blood Transfusion: Benefits, Risks & Safety

An individual who suffers from chronic illnesses, such as kidney disease or cancer may already have access to a permanent, long-term vein, and new IV placement is not required every time.

It is crucial to be aware of any adverse reaction during the first 15 minutes following the transfusion. Reactions may not appear until many weeks later. A transfusion is generally deemed safe, but it has some risks. Complicated issues can appear right away, while others take a while to show up.

  • Anaphylactic Reaction: This occurs within minutes of starting a transfusion and poses a high risk. Shortness of breath, swelling of the face, and low blood pressure are some of the symptoms you may experience.
  • Bloodborne Infections: It’s unlikely that bloodborne infections have happened due to the screening and testing done by blood banks, but they have in the past.
  • HIV: One in two million people will contract HIV through donated blood.
  • Hepatitis B and C: You have a 1 in 300,000 chance of contracting hepatitis B and a 1 in 1.5 million chance of contracting hepatitis C.
  • West Nile Virus: You are about one in 350,000 likely to contract West Nile virus.
  • Zika Virus: There are usually no symptoms in those who suffer from it.
  • Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI): The transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) can be fatal, although it’s a rare occurrence. Transfusion reactions manifest themselves in low blood pressure and fever within a few hours of starting the transfusion. The TRALI causes lung damage. Immune cells or other substances may be responsible for this.
  • Acute Immune Hemolytic Reaction: This is a rare complication that requires immediate medical attention. You get it when your body attacks the red blood cells in the blood you’ve received. A transfusion reaction typically takes place during or right after the transfusion, and you may feel feverish, chills, nausea, or experience pain in your stomach or lower back. Also, your urine might appear dark.
  • Delayed Hemolytic Reaction: In contrast to an acute immune hemolytic reaction, delayed hemolytic reactions tend to happen more slowly.
  • Fever: In most cases, a fever that appears one to six hours after a blood transfusion isn’t serious. It can be much more serious if you also have nausea or chest pain. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Allergic Reactions: A blood transfusion can cause an allergic reaction even if the type of blood is the correct one. If this happens, you will likely develop hives and feel itchy. You’ll likely experience an allergic reaction during or right after the transfusion.

Blood Transfusion Safety

Transfusions are not necessary or appropriate. When the wrong blood is infused into patients, the reason is almost always human error and may lead to fatal reactions if the ABOs are incompatible. An estimated 60 percent of wrong transfusions occur due to identification errors, sample handling in the laboratory, borrowing the wrong component from a blood bank, and transfusion errors.

Blood Transfusion: Benefits, Risks & Safety

A final identity check between a patient and a blood component can prevent potentially fatal wrong transfusions. In the process of administering blood, excellent communication, identification, and documentation are essential. With the help of barcode technology and electronic transfusion systems, these can be improved.

All staff involved in the clinical transfusion process should undergo appropriate training and have their competency assessed. Hospitals should develop local transfusion policies based on national guidelines. Transfusion consent should be valid, but it is not legally required. Patients should be informed and discussed transfusion before their consent. There is an increased risk of errors associated with ‘out of hours’ blood transfusion and overnight blood administration.

Nandana Valsan

Nandana Valsan is a Journalist/Writer by profession and an 'India Book of Records holder from Kochi, Kerala. She is pursuing MBA and specializes in Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s best known for News Writings for both small and large Web News Media, Online Publications, Freelance writing, and so on. ‘True Love: A Fantasy Bond’ is her first published write-up as a co-author and 'Paradesi Synagogue: History, Tradition & Antiquity' is her second successful write-up in a book as a co-author in the National Record Anthology. She has won Millenia 15 Most Deserving Youth Award 2022 in the category of Writer. A lot of milestones are waiting for her to achieve. Being a Writer, her passion for helping readers in all aspects of today's digital era flows through in the expert industry coverage she provides.

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