Transfusions are used to keep your number of blood cells at a safe level. They may be used before, during or after other treatments. Patients may receive whole blood or just specific components of the blood needed to treat their particular condition. To avoid a transfusion reaction, donated blood must be compatible with the blood of the patient who is receiving the transfusion. Before a blood transfusion, two blood tests “type and cross match” are done. Cross Match chart is shown for ready reference.
Components of Blood
Whole blood contains red cells, white cells, and platelets (~45% of volume) suspended in plasma (~55% of volume).
Red cells, or erythrocytes, carry oxygen from the lungs to your body’s tissue and take carbon dioxide back to your lungs to be exhaled.
Platelets, or thrombocytes, are small, colorless cell fragments in the blood whose main function is to interact with clotting proteins to stop or prevent bleeding.
Plasma is a fluid, composed of about 92% water, 7% vital proteins such as albumin, gamma globulin, anti-hemophilic factor, and other clotting factors, and 1% mineral salts, sugars, fats, hormones and vitamins.
Side Effects of Blood Transfusion
About 1 to 2% of transfusions may cause fever and chills or an allergic reaction, such as hives. If you have had these side effects during past transfusions, you may get medicine before your transfusion to help reduce any reaction. In addition, white blood cells are usually filtered out of red blood cell and platelet transfusions, because the white blood cells can cause fever and chills.