Understanding Blood Transfusion: A Lifesaving Procedure
What is Blood transfusion?
A blood transfusion is a safe and potentially life-saving medical procedure in which an individual receives blood from another person, known as a donor. This intervention is employed when the person’s body is unable to produce an adequate number of red blood cells or has experienced a significant loss of blood due to illness or injury. By undergoing a blood transfusion, the recipient’s lost blood can be replaced, and specific components like red blood cells, plasma, or platelets can be replenished as needed. Overall, this critical medical treatment can facilitate the individual’s recovery from conditions involving blood loss and contribute to their well-being.
Different types of Blood transfusion
The components of blood utilized in a transfusion are determined by the specific reasons necessitating the procedure for the patient.
The types may include:
Red Blood Cell Transfusion
- Red blood cells have very important functions. They carry oxygen, which we get from breathing, to all parts of our body through a protein called hemoglobin. This helps our organs and tissues function properly.
- At the same time, red blood cells collect waste carbon dioxide from our organs and take it back to the lungs, where we breathe it out.
- Because red blood cells are so important, they are the most commonly used part of blood in transfusions when someone needs extra help with their blood.
- Blood cells are found in a clear and yellowish liquid called plasma.
- It has special substances that help create clots, which are like patches that stop bleeding when we get hurt.
- Additionally, plasma delivers important nutrients to all parts of our body to keep them healthy and working well.
- Platelets are tiny cell fragments in our blood that play a crucial role in stopping bleeding when we get hurt.
- Having an insufficient number of platelets puts individuals at a greater risk of experiencing serious bleeding that can be potentially hazardous.
- Granulocytes are a specific type of white blood cells that our body uses to fight off bacterial and fungal infections.
- Some people might face severe and life-threatening infections that do not get better with regular antibiotics, and this could be because their levels of granulocytes are low.
- To help them fight these infections, they might need to receive transfusions of granulocytes for a short time.
Blood groups and Rh factor
- Blood groups and the Rh factor are important factors in determining a person’s blood type.
- Blood groups are categorized into different types, the most common being A, B, AB, and O.
- The type of blood one has depends on the specific proteins present on the surface of red blood cells.
- The Rh factor is an additional feature that is either present (+) or absent (-) in red blood cells.
- If the blood has the Rh factor, it is considered Rh-positive (e.g., A+, B+, AB+, O+). If the blood lacks the Rh factor, it is Rh-negative (e.g., A-, B-, AB-, O-).
- Individuals with blood type A are compatible with blood donations from donors with blood types A and O, while they cannot receive blood from B or AB donors.
- Individuals with blood type B are compatible with blood donations from donors with blood types B and O, while they cannot receive blood from A or AB donors.
- Individuals with blood type AB are compatible with blood donations from individuals with blood types A, B, AB, and O. Individuals who possess blood type O can exclusively accept blood solely from people who also possess blood type O.
- Knowing the blood type and Rh factor is crucial, especially in medical emergencies or if one needs a blood transfusion. It helps ensure that the patient receives compatible blood if the need arises.
Uses of Blood transfusion
You might require a blood transfusion if you’ve experienced an issue like:
- Liver issues
- Child birth
- Kidney Problems
- Anemia is a medical disorder characterized by a deficiency in red blood cells
- A severe accident with significant losses of blood
- An operation that resulted in significant bleeding
- A liver-related issue that prevents the human body from producing specific blood components
- Loss of blood following delivery/Childbirth
- A malfunctioning kidney that affects the ability of the human body to produce blood cells
- Hemophilia is a condition that leads to prolonged bleeding.
Steps of Blood transfusion
In a medical setting such as a hospital or doctor’s office, a blood transfusion is performed. The steps involved are as follow:
Before the procedure
- Before the procedure commences, a nurse or doctor will assess the individual’s blood pressure, pulse, and temperature.
During the procedure
- During the transfusion, a small tube known as an intravenous (IV) line is inserted into the person’s body to deliver the new blood.
- The length of the transfusion maybe 1 hour or sometimes can go up to 4 hours, based on the required quantity of blood.
Following the procedure
- Once the process is ended, the individual’s essential signs are observed.
- Once it is confirmed that the patient is in a stable condition and there are no immediate concerns, the IV line, through which the transfusion was administered, is gently and safely removed from the person’s vein.
- Some soreness near the IV insertion site might be experienced in the days following the transfusion.
- As a precaution, the individual’s doctor may schedule a follow-up checkup to observe how their body responds to the newly received blood.
Care after Blood transfusion
- After the blood transfusion, the healthcare provider will recommend the individual take it easy and rest for a period of 24 to 48 hours.
- The patient might begin regular activities and a normal diet.
- The healthcare professional attending to the patient may provide them with additional instructions.
- If patients experience symptoms such as high temperature, difficulty breathing, dark urine, or any other unusual signs, they should promptly inform their healthcare provider.
Risks of Blood transfusions
Acute hemolytic transfusion reactions
- These are serious reactions that can happen when the wrong blood type is given during a blood transfusion.
- The body’s immune system attacks the new blood cells, causing them to break apart, which can lead to severe complications.
Febrile nonhemolytic transfusion reactions
- These are mild reactions that sometimes occur following the transfusion.
- These are not dangerous, but they may cause the person to have a fever and feel a bit unwell.
- An allergic reaction to a blood transfusion can vary in severity.
- Minor indications may comprise tingling or a rash. Severe indications may encompass difficulty breathing or a sensation of vomiting.
Excessive blood in the body
- Transfusion overload can occur if a person receives more blood than required.
- It may lead to breathlessness and other symptoms. Usually, these symptoms become evident within a short time frame ranging from several hours to one day.
- Individuals with cardiac problems are at a higher risk of developing this condition. Administering medications that enhance urine production, thereby aiding the body in eliminating surplus water and salt, after a blood transfusion, could be beneficial in preventing this problem.
Shortness of breath
- It refers to experiencing breathing problems within 24 hours after the procedure.
Spread of viruses
- Some viruses like HIV can spread although there is a very low risk.
- Before the blood is used, it undergoes thorough screening to ensure it is safe for transfusion.
- When someone receives a massive blood transfusion, it means they are getting a significant amount of blood quickly.
- This can sometimes affect the blood’s normal clotting process.
- When blood does not clot as it should, it can cause problems with excessive bleeding, making it challenging for the body to stop bleeding after an injury or surgery.
- Blood transfusion is a potentially life-saving medical procedure that can assist in replenishing lost blood resulting from surgery or injury.
- Additionally, a blood transfusion can be beneficial when an illness hinders the body from producing blood or its components correctly.
- Blood transfusions are generally safe and complications are rare.
- In case any unexpected symptoms arise, patients should promptly inform their healthcare provider for appropriate evaluation and care.