- Take the Blood Disorders Quiz
- Patient Comments: Blood Transfusion - Experience
- Patient Comments: Blood Transfusion - Complications
- Blood transfusion facts
- What is a blood transfusion?
- Autologous blood (using your own blood)
- Donor blood
- What is a blood bank?
- What are the different types of blood?
- What are the types of blood transfusions?
- Who needs a blood transfusion?
- What to expect before a blood transfusion
- What to expect during a blood transfusion
- What to expect after a blood transfusion
- What are the risks and complications of a blood transfusion?
- Are there alternatives to blood transfusions?
What are the types of blood transfusions?
Blood is transfused either as whole blood (with all its parts) or, more often, as individual parts. The type of blood transfusion you need depends on your situation.
Red Blood Cell Transfusions
Red blood cells are the most commonly transfused components of the blood. These cells carry oxygen from the lungs to your body's organs and tissues. They also help your body get rid of carbon dioxide and other waste products.
You may need a transfusion of red blood cells if you've lost blood due to an injury or surgery. You also may need this type of transfusion if you have severe anemia (uh-NEE-me-uh) due to disease or blood loss.
Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color. This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Platelets and Clotting Factor Transfusions
Platelets and clotting factors help stop bleeding, including internal bleeding that you can't see. Some illnesses may cause your body to not make enough platelets or clotting factors. You may need regular transfusions of these blood products to stay healthy.
For example, if you have hemophilia (heem-o-FILL-ee-ah), you may need a special clotting factor to replace the clotting factor you're lacking. Hemophilia is a rare, inherited bleeding disorder in which your blood doesn't clot normally.
If you have hemophilia, you may bleed for a longer time than others after an injury or accident. You also may bleed internally, especially in the joints (knees, ankles, and elbows).
If you have been badly burned or have liver failure or a severe infection, you may need a plasma transfusion.