Blood Transfusions

My doctor has told me that I may require a blood transfusion and I have many questions.

What Kinds Of Blood Products Are There?

  • Blood products include Red Blood Cells, Platelets, Plasma, Clotting Factors, and Albumin. Each is used for treatment in different circumstances.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Blood Transfusion?

  • Increasing the ability of your blood to supply oxygen to your vital organs.
  • Decreasing the risk of complications during and after surgery, and improving wound healing.
  • Decrease the risk of, or help treat bleeding problems.
  • Saving your life.

Where Does The Blood/Blood Products Come From?

  • The blood comes from healthy people, who voluntarily donate their blood, for the benefit of others and is collected and distributed by the Canadian Blood Services (CBS)

What Are The Risks Associated With Having A Blood Transfusion?

  • The CBS screens their blood donor carefully, and test all blood donations for viruses, including Hepatitis B and C, HIV 1 & 2, Human T-cell lymphotrophic virus 1 & 2 (HTLV-1 &2), West Nile Virus and Syphilis. The CBS states that Canada’s blood supply is as safe as any other blood supply in the world, however blood will never be completely without risk, as any human tissue can transmit viral, or bacterial agents. Also everyone’s individual immune system reacts to blood in a different way. The CBS and the hospital Blood Bank makes great effort to minimize any risks. The risk to your health of not having a transfusion that your doctor feels is necessary, is greater.

What Are The Risks Of Not Having A Blood Transfusion?

The risks of not having a transfusion that your doctors feels is necessary depend on your individual state of health. Some of the risks include:

  • Anemia and insufficient oxygen delivery to your vital organs, like the heart and brain.
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Low blood pressure (shock)
  • Bleeding during or after surgery
  • Delayed wound healing

Why Do I Have To Give Consent To Have A Blood Transfusion?

  • Consent acknowledges that you have discussed the risks and benefits of a blood transfusion with your doctor. It is protection for you as a patient, ensuring that you are satisfactorily informed. It becomes part of your hospital record.

Do I Have Other Options?

  • You may be able to donate your own blood before an elective surgery, if it is deemed likely that a blood transfusion may be required. (Autologous Donation). Discuss this with your Physician.
  • Further information regarding blood transfusions can be found at Transfusion Ontario.  www.transfusionontario.org/public-en/for-patients/overview.php

References:

  • The Risk of Transfusion – Transmitted Viral Infections. Schreiber, G. Busch: The New England of Journal of Medicine. Vol 334, No. 26 p. 1685-1690.
  • Canadian Blood Services website: www.bloodservices.ca
  • Link: www.labtestsonline.org