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Blood Transfusion


A blood transfusion is used to give you blood through an IV. You may get only part of the blood, such as red blood cells, platelets, or plasma. The blood may be from you and stored for you to use later. The blood may instead be from another person. Donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, West Nile virus, and other diseases.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have a skin rash, hives, swelling, or itching.
  • You have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.
  • Your throat tightens or your lips or tongue swell.
  • You have difficulty swallowing or speaking.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You develop a high fever and chills.
  • You are dizzy, lightheaded, confused, or feel like you are going to faint.
  • You have nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps, or you are vomiting.
  • You urinate little or not at all.
  • You develop headaches or double vision.
  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes look yellow.
  • You see pinpoint purple spots or purple patches on your body.
  • You have a seizure.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You feel tired and weak within 10 days of your transfusion.
  • You have questions or concerns about blood transfusions.


  • Antihistamines may help stop mild itching or a rash.
  • Epinephrine is emergency medicine used to stop anaphylaxis. You may be given epinephrine if you are at risk for anaphylaxis. Your healthcare provider will teach you how to use it.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Apply ice

to decrease pain and swelling. Use an ice pack, or put ice in a plastic bag and wrap a towel around it. Apply the ice pack or wrapped bag to your transfusion site for 20 minutes each hour or as directed.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.