Why Would You Need A Blood Transfusion Types Risks & Side Effects
Blood transfusion definition and facts
Blood transfusions can be a life-saving measure. Volunteer donor blood usually is readily available, and when properly tested has a low incidence of adverse events. The likelihood of contracting infections from a blood transfusion is very low , but can occur. Transfusion of your own blood is the safest method but requires planning and not all patients are eligible. It is usually only an option for elective surgery. Directed donor blood allows the patient to receive blood from known donors. Blood conserving techniques are an important aspect of limiting transfusion requirements. Blood banks are responsible for collecting, testing, and storing blood. People with Type O, negative blood are considered universal donors as it is safe to transfuse to nearly everyone. Most of the time a transfusion is not a “whole blood” transfusion, but rather certain blood products, with red blood cells being the most common.
What is a blood transfusion?
Using your own blood
Pre-operative donation: donating your own blood before surgery. The blood bank draws your blood and stores it until you need it during or after surgery. This option is only for non-emergency surgery. It has the advantage of eliminating or minimizing the need for someone else’s blood during and after surgery. The disadvantage is that it requires advanced planning which may delay surgery. Some medical conditions may prevent the pre-operative donation of blood products.
Destruction Of Red Blood Cells
Despite careful typing and cross-matching of blood, mismatches due to subtle differences between donor and recipient blood can still occur. When such a mismatch occurs, the recipient’s body destroys the transfused red blood cells shortly after the transfusion.
Usually, this reaction starts as general discomfort or anxiety during or immediately after the transfusion. Sometimes breathing difficulty, chest pressure, flushing, and severe back pain develop. Sometimes the person has cold, clammy skin and low blood pressure Low Blood Pressure Low blood pressure is blood pressure low enough to cause symptoms such as dizziness and fainting. Very low blood pressure can cause damage to organs, a process called shock. Various drugs and… read more . Very rarely, the person may die.
As soon as doctors suspect a hemolytic reaction, they stop the transfusion. Doctors give treatment to support the person’s breathing and blood pressure. Doctors do blood and urine tests to confirm that red blood cells are being destroyed.
Sometimes a hemolytic reaction is delayed, occurring within the month after a transfusion. Usually, such a reaction is mild and may only be noticed when blood tests are done to monitor the person’s recovery from the disorder that necessitated the transfusion. These reactions occur due to the presence of an uncommon blood group antigen in the donor blood that is not routinely tested for.
How Long After A Blood Transfusion Can You Have Side Effects
ï Reactions can occur between 1 day and 4 weeks after the transfusion. A person can acquire these antibodies through previous pregnancies or transfusions. These particular antibodies decrease over time to undetectable levels. Those with the antibodies have a higher chance of developing these transfusion reactions.
You May Like: Order In Which Blood Flows Through The Heart
What Is A Blood Transfusion Reaction
A transfusion reaction is a medical reaction that occurs in response to a blood transfusion. There are two types of transfusion reactions.
Many reactions are classified as immunologic reactions, in which the immune system of the blood transfusion recipient has a reaction to the donated blood. Immunologic reactions include allergic reactions, hemolysis , and other types of immune responses.
Other transfusion reactions are non-immunologic. These reactions do not involve the immune system. Examples of non-immunologic transfusion reactions include fluid overload , citrate toxicity , infectious disease transmission, or bacterial contamination of the transfused blood.
“Many transfusion reactions occur acutely, within seconds of starting the transfusion up to 48 hours post-transfusion.”
Many transfusion reactions occur acutely, within seconds of starting the transfusion up to 48 hours post-transfusion. In other cases, however, transfusion reactions may be delayed these reactions may not be observed until days or weeks after the transfusion. The overall reported incidence of transfusion reactions ranges from 1-26%, depending on the underlying cause.
Prevention Of A Transfusion Reaction
Before a blood transfusion, healthcare providers must ensure that the recipient is receiving the correct blood sample. â
Human errors, such as transfusing untested blood, are rare but can still happen. It’s crucial that blood gets tested beforehand to avoid the spread of infections like HIV and Hepatitis B or C. â
For blood to be passed as safe for transfusion, it has to be:
- From a donor that is free of disease
- Free of infection
- Well stored, transported, and tested for infections
- Transfused only when needed
As soon as a blood transfusion reaction occurs, doctors will need to retest the blood. This can help them understand the cause of the reaction. Your doctor may also request to retest the recipient’s blood.â
Most transfusion reactions are not harmful. However, some, such as anaphylactic reactions, can be fatal. Transfusion should be stopped immediately when a reaction starts and the recipient should be monitored in case of more reactions.
You May Like: Blood Doesn T Clot Disease
Red Blood Cell Transfusions
Red blood cell basics
Red blood cells give blood its color. Their job is to carry oxygen from the lungs through the bloodstream to every part of the body. A substance in red blood cells called hemoglobin does this. Then, the red cells bring carbon dioxide back to the lungs, where its removed from the body when we exhale.
Red blood cells are normally made in thebone marrow, the soft inner part of certain bones. The production of RBCs is controlled by the kidneys. When the kidneys sense that there arent enough RBCs in the blood, they release a hormone called erythropoietin that causes the bone marrow to make more.
When red blood cell transfusions are used
Anemia: People who have low numbers of red blood cells are said to have anemia or be anemic. People who have anemia may need RBC transfusions because they dont have enough RBCs to carry oxygen to all of the cells in the body.
Patients who have certain heart or lung diseases may be more affected by anemia and may need transfusions even if their hemoglobin level is not very low. Other conditions that increase the need for oxygen may also require transfusions.
There are drugs that can treat anemia instead of a transfusion in some patients, but they carry different risks, work slowly, and cost a lot. For more information about anemia and how its treated, see Anemia in People With Cancer.
How Is A Blood Transfusion Reaction Diagnosed
In many cases, a transfusion reaction can be diagnosed based on clinical signs alone. If new clinical signs develop during or immediately after a blood transfusion, a transfusion reaction is frequently the cause of these signs. The diagnosis of a transfusion reaction may be confirmed using blood tests, urinalysis, or other tests, such as radiographs . The specific tests performed to diagnose a transfusion reaction will vary depending on the type of transfusion reaction that your veterinarian suspects.
Read Also: Blood Tests For Cancer Detection
What Are Potential Side Effects For Children’s Blood Transfusions
The majority of transfusions are completed without complications. Still, it’s important for parents to be aware of potential risks, including a mild or severe allergic reaction caused by the recipients immune systems response to proteins in the transfused blood. Some symptoms could be itching or hives.
A child receiving a blood transfusion may experience fever, chills, or nausea, caused by a reaction between the immune cells in the transfused blood and the immune system of the recipient.
The risk of a more serious complication also exists. For example, if a recipient’s blood and a donor’s blood do not match, the immune system of the recipient may attack and destroy the red blood cells in the donor blood. This is called a hemolytic transfusion reaction, and these types of reactions can be life-threatening. There is also a very small risk of infectious disease transmission via blood transfusion.
How Is A Blood Transfusion Reaction Treated
The first step in treating a transfusion reaction is to immediately stop the transfusion if it is still being delivered. Your veterinarian will then provide supportive care for your cat. This care often includes IV fluids to help maintain appropriate blood pressure.
“The first step in treating a transfusion reaction is to immediately stop the transfusion…”
Your veterinarian will then administer medications specific to the type of reaction that your cat is experiencing. In the case of an allergic reaction, your veterinarian will administer antihistamines and/or epinephrine to stop the reaction. Patients with hemolytic reactions may receive prolonged courses of immunosuppressive drugs. Your veterinarian may give antibiotics if bacterial contamination is suspected or diuretics if a fluid overload is suspected.
Also Check: How Long Does Blood Sugar Stay Elevated After Eating
How Is A Blood Transfusion Reaction Diagnosed And Treated
Your blood and urine will be tested for signs of kidney failure or destroyed red blood cells. You may need any of the following to treat a reaction:
- Medicines may be given to decrease itching and swelling from a mild reaction. Epinephrine is an emergency medicine given when antihistamines do not stop an allergic reaction. You may also need medicine to relax muscles in your throat and chest to help you breathe, or to raise your blood pressure. Medicine may also be given to lower a fever.
- Fluids may be given through your IV to prevent your blood pressure from falling too low. IV fluids will also help your kidneys get rid of donor red blood cells that your immune system has destroyed.
Key Facts About Side Effects Of Blood Transfusion:
- In many cases, an individual will immediately feel the positive effects of a blood transfusion.
- A blood transfusion usually takes 1-4 hours, depending on the purpose of the procedure.
- The advantages of a transfusion may last up to 2 weeks but vary based on the circumstances.
- Different kinds of transfusions may provide specific blood elements to the individual, such as a plasma or red blood cells.
Recommended Reading: High Blood Pressure Chest Pain
Precautions And Adverse Reactions During Blood Transfusion
, MD, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Transfusions Overview of Blood Transfusion A blood transfusion is the transfer of blood or a blood component from one healthy person to a sick person . Transfusions are given to increase the blood’s ability to… read more are given to increase the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, restore the amount of blood in the body , and correct clotting problems. Transfusions are usually safe, but sometimes people have adverse reactions.
To minimize the chance of an adverse reaction during a transfusion, health care practitioners take several precautions. Before starting the transfusion, usually a few hours or even a few days beforehand, the person is cross-matched with the donor blood .
After double-checking labels on the bags of blood that are about to be given to ensure the units are intended for that recipient, the health care practitioner gives the blood to the recipient slowly, generally over 1 to 4 hours for each unit of blood. Because most adverse reactions occur during the first 15 minutes of the transfusion, the recipient is closely observed at first. After that, a nurse checks on the recipient periodically and must stop the transfusion if an adverse reaction occurs.
Most transfusions are safe and successful. However, mild reactions occur occasionally, and, rarely, severe and even fatal reactions may occur.
The most common reactions, which occur in 1 to 2% of transfusions, are
The most serious reactions are
Plasma And Cryoprecipitate Transfusion
Fresh frozen plasma , the fluid that carries blood cells, and cryoprecipitate, the portion of the plasma that contains clotting factors , may be transfused to patients whose blood has abnormal or low levels of blood-clotting proteins. Problems can develop in patients as a result of liver disease or infection. Fortunately, these conditions are uncommon in most people with blood cancers, except for people with promyelocytic leukemia, who may need transfusions to prevent or treat bleeding.
Don’t Miss: High Systolic Normal Diastolic Blood Pressure
Risks Of A Blood Transfusion
You may be aware of the danger of receiving blood from another person and being infected with HIV , hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases. And it is that blood transfusions are not 100% safe despite the fact that donated blood is exhaustively analyzed in search of pathologies and infections and despite the fact that blood banks have a list of people who are not allowed to donate blood .
However, in order for a person to donate blood, they must answer a fairly extensive and detailed test on risk factors for infections that can be transmitted through the blood, travel history, sexual habits, drug use and general habits. In addition, once the person donates blood, this fluid is subjected to analysis to determine the presence of an infection and only when it is determined that the blood is clean is it approved for donation. Receiving blood from family or friends does not make the transfusion 100% safe.
How Risky Are Blood Transfusions Really
Blood transfusions became the focus of public interest for the first time in the 1980s, when the AIDS immunodeficiency disease caused a stir. However, the probability today is very low that the HI virus is transmitted through a blood bank. Almost excluded is also the infection with hepatitis.
Nowadays, there are completely different side effects with blood transfusions. It can lead to unwanted reactions such as fever, allergic reactions, inflammation, cardiovascular complaints and in the worst case to lung and kidney complications. And even if the blood groups from the blood donor and blood recipient agree.
The human heart squeezes the blood through the veins and arteries about 100,000 times a day at up to four kilometers per hour. It only takes a minute to flow through the entire cycle and consists of a liquid and a cellular portion.
The liquid plasma transports proteins and other substances, while the red blood cells are responsible for the distribution of oxygen. Since cells are transferred by blood transfusion, it can be compared to organ transplantation. But the blood cells can mess up the immune system of the blood recipient, which always triggers dangerous immune reactions.
Also Check: What Happens If You Donate Blood With High Blood Pressure
Why People With Cancer Might Need Blood Transfusions
People with cancer might need blood transfusions because of the cancer itself. For instance:
- Some cancers cause internal bleeding, which can lead to anemia from too few red blood cells see Red blood cell transfusions in the next section.
- Blood cells are made in the bone marrow, the spongy center of certain bones. Cancers that start in the bone marrow or cancers that spread there from other places may crowd out normal blood-making cells, leading to low blood counts.
- People who have had cancer for some time may develop something called anemia of chronic disease. This anemia is caused by certain long-term medical conditions that affect the production and lifespan of red blood cells.
- Cancer can also lower blood counts by affecting organs such as the kidneys and spleen, which help keep enough cells in the blood.
Cancer treatments may also lead to the need for blood transfusions:
How Blood Is Given
A sample of your blood will be taken before the transfusion to check that the blood you receive is compatible with your own blood.
You will be asked to state your full name and date of birth, and the details on your identification band will be checked before each bag of blood is given.
Blood is usually given through a tiny plastic tube called a cannula, which is inserted into a vein in your arm. The cannula is connected to a drip and the blood runs through the drip into your arm.
Depending on the underlying condition and the type of other treatment needed, some patients may have a larger tube, which is known as a central line, inserted into a vein in their chest.
Alternatively, a peripherally inserted central catheter may be inserted in the crook of the arm.
Read Also: Does Cancer Show In Blood Tests
What Causes A Blood Transfusion Reaction
Your immune system can react to anything in the donor blood. One of the most serious reactions is called ABO incompatibility. The 4 main blood types are A, B, O, and AB. Your immune system will try to destroy donor cells that are the wrong type for you. Another reaction happens when you are allergic to something in the donor blood. Allergic reactions are usually mild but can become a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
Getting A Blood Transfusion
A blood transfusion is given through tubing connected to a needle or fine tube thats in a vein. The amount and part of the blood transfused depends on what the patient needs.
First, blood tests such as a complete blood count are done to find out if the patients symptoms are likely to be helped by a transfusion. A CBC measures the levels of components within the blood such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Tests of clotting may also be done if abnormal bleeding is a problem.
If a transfusion is needed, it must be prescribed by a health care provider. At that point, more blood tests must be done to find a donated blood component that closely matches the patient.
Recommended Reading: Vitamins That Increase Blood Flow
Blood Transfusions For People With Cancer
A transfusion is putting blood or some part of it into a persons vein through an intravenous line.
Transfusions of blood and blood products may be given to a person who is bleeding or who cant make enough blood cells. Blood transfusions save millions of lives in the United States every year.
People usually donate whole blood blood taken right out of a vein through a needle. This whole blood may be called a unit or pint of blood, and equals about 450 milliliters or 16.7 ounces. But whole blood is rarely given as a transfusion. Blood has many parts , and each one does a different job. Whole blood is usually separated into red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Plasma can be further separated into clotting factors and certain proteins. This lets doctors give patients only what they need. It also helps to get the most out of the donated blood.