There are several different types of blood transfusion. Whether you need one depends on a number of factors.
An average-sized adult has about five litres of blood in total. Small amounts of blood loss (up to 1.5 litres) can be replaced with a salt solution, which your body replaces with new red blood cells over the following weeks.
The different types of blood transfusions are described below.
The main reason for a red blood cell transfusion is to treat Iron deficiency anaemia . Anaemia occurs when the body doesn't have enough red, oxygen-carrying blood cells, which means the bodys tissues and cells aren't getting enough oxygen.
Anaemia can develop as a result of severe blood loss for example, as a complication during childbirth or as a result of injury or surgery. Anaemia can also be caused by:
If you're told that you might need a blood transfusion, you should ask why it's necessary and whether there are alternative treatments. You have the right to refuse a blood transfusion, but you need to fully understand the outcome of this before doing so. Some medical treatments or operations can't be safely carried out without a blood transfusion.
A platelet transfusion is used to treat people who have very low levels of platelet cells in their blood. This is known as thrombocytopenia.
If you have thrombocytopenia, you're at risk of excessive bleeding, either through a minor accident, cut or graze, or as a result of surgery or dental work.
Causes of thrombocytopenia that may require treatment with a platelet transfusion include:
Plasma is the fluid in the blood containing proteins that help the blood to clot. A transfusion of plasma may be needed if there's severe bleeding, such as after surgery, trauma or childbirth. A transfusion may also be needed in conditions (such as liver disease) that affect the production of clotting proteins.
Granulocytes are a type of white blood cell that help to fight infection. Granulocyte transfusions aren't commonly used, but may be needed if there's a severe infection that's not responding to antibiotics after chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.
Surgeons always try to carry out surgery to minimise the amount of blood lost. In recent years, this has become easier, due to the increasing use of keyhole surgery ( laparoscopic surgery ), where only small cuts are made in the body.
However, some types of surgical operations and procedures have a higher risk of blood loss; therefore, a blood transfusion is more likely to be needed.
It may be possible to use a procedure called intra-operative cell salvage. It collects your blood that's lost during the surgery, and it can be returned back to you. Ask your doctor or nurse if intra-operative cell salvage is appropriate for the type of surgery youre having.
It's no longer possible to routinely collect your own blood in advance of your surgery.
A blood transfusion is a process that involves taking blood from one person (the donor) and giving it to someone else (the recipient). Blood donors are unpaid volunteers. They're carefully selected and tested to make sure the blood they donate is as safe as possible.
There are several different types of blood transfusion. Whether or not you need one depends on a number of factors. If you're told that you might need a blood transfusion, you should ask why it's necessary and whether there are alternative treatments.
If you're going to receive a blood transfusion as part of a planned course of treatment, the doctor, nurse or midwife planning your transfusion will usually obtain your informed consent for the procedure. A sample of your blood will be taken before the transfusion to check that the blood you receive is compatible with your own blood.
Blood transfusions are a fairly common procedure. The risk of serious side effects is low, as your blood is tested against the donor blood to make sure it is compatible and you will be monitored regularly during the transfusion.
Motorsport fanatic, Mike Austin, 34, will never forget the summer of 2006. While on his way to work on his much-loved motorbike, he received a blood transfusion after his motorbike collided with a car.
Nisa Karia, 30, who suffers from thalassaemia. She has needed blood transfusions for most of her life and has received more than 1,300 units of blood so far. Nisa was diagnosed with thalassaemia major when she was just five.