Blood Transfusions: Are They Safe?

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 10:21 AM

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What Is Anemia?
 
A reduction of red blood cells in the blood causes anemia. Patients of anemia may feel tired or the loss of energy or experience breathlessness. Anemia is also a symptom of a number of diseases including cancer. Blood tests determine the safety level of hemoglobin in the blood or its deficiency. If the hemoglobin level is low, it indicates the patient is suffering from anemia.
 
In the case of severely low hemoglobin levels, a doctor may recommend blood transfusions for anemia patients. Other than this, some other treatment options may be available to treat anemia. These include cases when the transfusion of a blood component like plasma or blood platelets may be required.
 
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Why Is the Blood Type Important?
 
The blood type of the blood to be transfused is always checked to see if it matches with that required by the patient to ensure safety of the blood transfusions. However, there are some exceptions. A recipient of any blood type can receive the blood type O negative. In this case, the safety concerns of blood type matching are relaxed.
 
This is the reason why persons with O negative blood type are referred to as universal donors. Similarly, persons with AB blood type have no safety concerns. They can receive blood from any recipient without safety issues of the body rejecting the transfusion. Hence, they are called universal recipients.  
 
What Are Blood Transfusions?
 
Blood transfusions are medical procedures in which blood from a donor is transferred to a recipient once their blood type is matched. There are eight kinds of blood type viz. A, B, AB, and O, with each further subdivided into positive and negative blood type. Blood transfusions are given intravenously by inserting a small needle into the vein.
 
Depending on the amount of blood required, it may take two to four hours to complete the process of blood transfusions. Transfusion of other blood components like plasma or blood platelets is also done in a similar manner depending on the type of disease.  
 
Why Do People Need Blood Transfusions?
 
Blood transfusions are the simplest method of treating anemia. After 24 hours of any blood transfusion, signs of improvement start appearing, and patients get relief from symptoms of anemia. However, sometimes the benefits of blood transfusions may be temporary and patients may require numerous blood transfusions.
 
With the help of blood transfusions, safety of a large number of lives is ensured. Transfusion of a part of blood, such as plasma, red blood cells, or blood platelets is also required when there is deficiency of the same.
 
What Are the Safety Concerns About Blood Transfusions?
 
Many people are concerned about safety of blood transfusion as there may be risks associated with it. Blood of anemia patients is always checked to determine safety from the risk infection from HIV virus before beginning transfusion process. Even apart from precautions taken for the well-known risk of infection and transfer of several diseases during the process of the blood transfusions, the donors’ and patients’ blood pressures, body temperatures, and pulse rates are checked regularly to monitor the safety level for health or for any blood reaction or rejection.
 
Side effects that may result from transfusion include skin rashes, headaches, or high temperature. Drugs like paracetamol can treat these side effects. However, severe side effects from transfusions are rare.
 
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