Blood transfusions may be needed to treat many diseases such as a low blood count (anemia).
People may also need blood to replace blood lost during surgery, from an injury, or from a major
bleed such as bleeding from the intestines. During a blood transfusion, blood products are given
through a vein. The blood will replace destroyed blood or lost blood and increase the ability of
the blood to carry oxygen.
Types of Blood Products:
1. Plasma: This is the liquid portion of the blood. Plasma contains important substances that
allow the blood to clot when bleeding occurs.
2. Red Blood Cells: Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. When red blood cells
are low, body tissues do not get enough oxygen to work properly.
3. Platelets: Platelets help form clots to stop bleeding. When platelets are low, you may bruise
or bleed more easily than usual.
Where does University Hospital get Blood?
Shephard Blood Center supplies the blood products used at University Hospital. The blood is
collected from voluntary donors. The blood is tested for diseases such as AIDS, syphilis,
hepatitis and other viruses. Any blood found to be diseased is destroyed. The donor is then
contacted. Despite testing of blood, the risks of contracting a disease cannot be totally
Benefits of Blood Transfusion
Restore blood volume
Replace clotting factors
Improve the ability of blood to carry oxygen
Risks of Blood Transfusion
Temporary transfusion reaction – nausea, vomiting, headaches, itching, hives, chills, fever,
breathing problems
More serious transfusion reactions can potentially result in death
Infections – HIV and other infectious agents
Risks of Not Receiving Blood
Heart Attack
Alternatives to Blood Transfusion
When blood is needed for planned procedures and non-emergency situations, the following may
be alternatives:
Self donation
Blood donated from family or friends
Products other than blood to increase volume
Medicine to stimulate the body to make blood cells
Revised 7/2007