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What is a blood transfusion?
A blood transfusion is the process of transferring blood, or any of its parts, from one person to another.
What is blood made of?
Blood is made of fluid called plasma and three types of blood cells: red cells, white cells and platelets. Each part of blood has a special function and can individually transfused.
Why would a child need a blood transfusion?
There are many reasons why a child may require a blood transfusion, such as:
sudden loss of blood
low hemoglobin (part of red blood cells that helps them carry oxygen from the lungs to all the parts of the body) before, during or after surgery
severe heart or lung disease
bone marrow failure
moderate to severe anemia
How is a blood transfusion performed?
Before a child receives a blood transfusion, the blood is carefully tested and cross-matched with his own blood to make sure it is compatible. It is then given through a needle or catheter (a thin, flexible tube) placed in the vein. The child’s temperature, blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored through the procedure. The full process usually takes a few hours to complete. Most blood transfusions are performed without any problems.
What are the side effects of blood transfusion?
Blood transfusion may cause mild side effects, such as:
These side effects can usually be treated with medication, should a child require additional transfusions.
Serious side effects from blood transfusions are rare. When they do occur, the most common is serum hepatitis, an infection of the liver. Although it is highly unlikely, a transfusion with the wrong type of blood can result in death.
Where does the blood used in a transfusion come from?
Is the blood used for blood transfusions safe?
Donated blood is carefully tested for hepatitis (liver disease) and syphilis (bacterial disease), as well as two viruses that affect the immune system, including HIV. These tests decrease the chances of infection caused by blood transfusions.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”