A Blood Transfusion is a procedure that involves a patient receiving blood from another individual (also known as a blood donor). This is a life saving procedure usually performed to replace either blood previously lost liquid or cells found in blood (such as red blood cells, plasma or cells called platelets).
There are many reasons as to why you may opt for a blood transfusion including:
- Anaemia (lack of red blood cells) – such as iron deficiency anaemia
- Conditions that affect the red blood cells i.e. sickle cell disease or thalassaemia
- Types of cancer or treatments that affect the blood cells – including chemotherapy or stem cell transplants
- Severe bleeding, from surgery, childbirth or an accident
Your blood is made up of many components:
- Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen and assist in the removal of waste products
- White blood cells help to fight infection in the body
- The Plasma is the liquid part within the blood
- Platelets help your blood clot and stop heavy bleeding
Before the procedure a sample of your blood is taken to check your blood group. Once a match has been found you will then be invited for the procedure. You can only be given blood that is safe from someone with the same blood group. Once the blood is obtained from the donor it will then be placed in a bag and stored until the day of the procedure.
Your named nurse will start by asking you to lie in a chair or bed, a needle that is connected to a tube and bag of blood is then inserted into the vein in your arm/hand. The blood runs through the tube in your vein delivering the blood into your stream. This procedure can take up to 4 hours to receive a bag of blood but it is dependent on how much you will need. You should be able to return the same day unless you are unwell or required a high amount of blood.
This procedure is painless though you may feel a slight prick when the cannula is inserted into your vein but that is all. A nurse will check you regularly whilst the blood is being transfused.
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