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Blood Transfusion Reactions


A blood transfusion reaction is a harmful immune system response to donor blood. You can have a reaction if you get donor blood that is the wrong type or if you are allergic to something in the donor blood. Reactions can happen right away or much later, and can be mild or severe.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Antihistamines decrease itching and swelling from a mild allergic reaction.
  • Fever medicine may be given if you have a high fever.
  • Diuretics help your body get rid of extra fluid.
  • Steroids reduce inflammation and open your air passages so you can breathe more easily.
  • Vasopressors increase your blood pressure to prevent shock caused by low blood pressure.
  • Bronchodilators relax muscles around your airway that tighten during an allergic reaction.
  • Epinephrine is an emergency medicine given when antihistamines do not stop an allergic reaction.


  • An EKG may be used to check your heart. Sticky pads are placed on your skin to record your heart's electrical activity.
  • Blood and urine tests may be used to check for signs of kidney damage.
  • Intake and output is used to track the amount of liquid you are getting and how much you are urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


  • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.


Severe bleeding may occur. You may lose consciousness and stop breathing. You may go into shock if your blood pressure falls too low. A mild allergic reaction can become anaphylaxis. You may get an infection. Rare but life-threatening risks include severe bleeding, seizures, and blood clots. You may need another transfusion or other treatments for delayed reactions.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.