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Blood Transfusion Reactions

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 3, 2024.

What is a blood transfusion reaction?

A blood transfusion reaction is a harmful immune system response to donor blood. Reactions can occur right away or much later, and can be mild or severe.

What causes a blood transfusion reaction?

Your immune system can react to anything in the donor blood. One of the most serious reactions is called ABO incompatibility. The 4 main blood types are A, B, O, and AB. Your immune system will try to destroy donor cells that are the wrong type for you. Another reaction happens when you are allergic to something in the donor blood. Allergic reactions are usually mild but can become a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

What increases my risk for a blood transfusion reaction?

What are the signs and symptoms of an immediate reaction?

Healthcare providers will stop the transfusion if you have any of the following:

What are the signs and symptoms of a delayed reaction?

A delayed blood transfusion reaction can begin within 3 to 10 days. You may also have a reaction the next time you receive blood.

How is a blood transfusion reaction diagnosed and treated?

Your blood and urine will be tested for signs of kidney failure or destroyed red blood cells. You may need any of the following to treat a reaction:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

How can I help prevent another blood transfusion reaction?

Call 911 for any of the following:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.