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What is a blood transfusion?
A blood transfusion is the transfer of blood or blood products from one person (donor) into another person's bloodstream (recipient). This is usually done as a life saving maneuver to replace blood cells or blood products lost through severe bleeding, during surgery when blood loss occurs or to increase the blood count in an anemic patient. The following material is provided to all patients and/or their family members regarding blood transfusions and the use of blood products. Although in most situations the likelihood of a blood transfusion associated with surgery is uncommon, at times patients may require blood products. You are encouraged to discuss your particular need for transfusion as well as the risks of transfusion with your doctor.
Your options may be limited by time and health factors, so it is important to begin carrying out your decision as soon as possible. For example, if friends or family members are donating blood for a patient (directed donors), their blood should be drawn several days prior to the anticipated need to allow adequate time for testing and labeling. The exact protocols are hospital and donor site specific.
The safest blood product is your own, so if a transfusion is likely, this is your lowest risk choice. Unfortunately this option is usually only practical when preparing for elective surgery. In most other instances the patient cannot donate their own blood due to the acute nature of the need for blood. Although you have the right to refuse a blood transfusion, this decision may hold life-threatening consequences. If you are a parent deciding for your child, you as the parent or guardian must understand that in a life-threatening situation your doctors will act in your child's best interest to insure your child's health and well being in accordance with standards of medical care regardless of religious beliefs. Please carefully review this material and decide with your doctor which option(s) you prefer.
To assure a safe transfusion make sure your healthcare provider who starts the
transfusion verifies your name and matches it to the blood that is going to be
transfused. Besides your name, a second personal identifier usually used is your birthday. This assures the blood is given to the correct patient.
If during the transfusion you have symptoms of shortness of breath, itching, fever or chills or just not feeling well, alert the person transfusing the blood immediately.
Blood can be provided from two sources: autologous blood (using your own blood) or donor blood (using someone else's blood).