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Blood Transfusion
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Blood Transfusion Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


A blood transfusion is the delivery of blood products through a vein. The blood products may be red cells, white cells, platelets, clotting factors, plasma, or whole blood. The blood may come from an unrelated or related donor, or it may have been taken from the recipient and stored in advance.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

  • You will have a blood test to determine your specific blood type. The donor blood will be carefully matched to your blood type.
  • You will also be given a physical exam. Your vital signs (eg, temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure) will be recorded.
  • You may be given Tylenol and Benadryl before you receive a transfusion. These drugs will help reduce any minor allergic reactions.

Description of the Procedure

You will be asked to sit in a comfortable chair. A bag containing the blood product will be hung nearby. An IV needle will be placed into a vein in your hand or arm. The blood product will drip slowly from the bag through a tube into your vein. Once the bag of blood product is empty, the needle in your arm will be removed.

Common IV Placement
Common IV Placement
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Throughout the transfusion, your vital signs will be checked regularly. You will also be asked about pain, itching, or discomfort of any sort. Most reactions occur early in a blood transfusion, so you will be monitored more closely during the first 15 minutes.

How Long Will It Take?

About 2–4 hours

Will It Hurt?

The placement of the IV needle is mildly painful. Once the needle is in place, it should not cause pain.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Immediately following your procedure, the staff may provide the following care:

  • Nurses will monitor you closely.
  • Your doctor may give you specific instructions based on your overall condition.
  • Your doctor may order blood tests to determine how effective the transfusion was.

At Home

When you return home after the transfusion, carefully follow your doctor’s advice regarding any activity restrictions or other instructions .



American Association of Blood Banks

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH


Mt. Sinai Hospital Toronto

Public Health Agency of Canada


Conn's Current Therapy 2007. WB Saunders Co; 2007.

Hladik et al. Transmission of human herpesvirus 8 by blood transfusion. N Engl J Med. 2006 Sep 28;355(13):1331-1338.

Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home Edition. 2nd ed. Merck and Co; 2004.

Posthouwer D. The natural history of childhood-acquired hepatitis C infection in patients with inherited bleeding disorders. Transfusion. 2006;46(8):1360-1366.



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