Every year, millions of people in the United States receive life-saving blood transfusions. During a transfusion, you receive whole blood or parts of blood such as
- Red blood cells - cells that carry oxygen to and from tissues and organs
- Platelets - cells that form clots to control bleeding
- Plasma - the liquid part of the blood that helps clotting. You may need it if you have been badly burned, have liver failure or a severe infection.
Most blood transfusions go very smoothly. Some infectious agents, such as HIV, can survive in blood and infect the person receiving the blood transfusion. To keep blood safe, blood banks carefully screen donated blood. The risk of catching a virus from a blood transfusion is low.
Sometimes it is possible to have a transfusion of your own blood. During surgery, you may need a blood transfusion because of blood loss. If you are having a surgery that you're able to schedule months in advance, your doctor may ask whether you would like to use your own blood, instead of donated blood. If so, you will need to have blood drawn one or more times before the surgery. A blood bank will store your blood for your use.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Blood Donation (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Blood Donation and Transfusion (Beyond the Basics) (UpToDate)
- Blood Donation Process (AABB)
- Blood Donation Process (American Red Cross) Also in Spanish
- Blood Transfusion (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Have You Given Blood Lately? (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
- What Is a Blood Transfusion? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Alternatives to Blood Transfusion (American Cancer Society)
- American Trypanosomiasis (Also Known as Chagas Disease) Blood Screening FAQs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Blood and Diversity (American Red Cross)
- Blood Types (American Red Cross)
- How You Can Help Medical Research: Donating Your Blood, Tissue, and Other Samples (National Cancer Institute) - PDF
- Precautions and Adverse Reactions during Blood Transfusion (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in Spanish
- What Happens to Donated Blood? (American Red Cross)
- Blood and Bone Marrow Donation (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Blood Frequently Asked Questions (AABB)
- Blood Transfusion (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)
- Exchange transfusion - slideshow (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Platelet Donation (American Red Cross)
- Special Blood Donation Procedures (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in Spanish
- Types of Blood Donations (America's Blood Centers)
- Types of Blood Donations (American Red Cross)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: How I manage red cell transfusions in patients with sickle...
- Article: Haematology patients and the risk of transfusion transmitted infection.
- Article: Is This a Blood Transfusion Reaction? Don't Hesitate; Check It...
- Blood Transfusion and Donation -- see more articles
- Blood types -- see more articles
- What Is Blood? (America's Blood Centers)