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Transfusion reactions

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Transfusion reactions occur if an individual is given an incompatible blood type during transfusion. Those who experience significant blood loss can greatly benefit from a blood transfusion to restore strength and health. Remember that these reactions are rare but can affect the lungs and kidneys.

Close look on the transfusion process

The doctor might recommend a blood transfusion if the individual lost blood or not producing enough. This can be due to surgery, illness, cancer, burns, infection, injury or other medical conditions.

The blood transfusions are typically done for the blood components such as platelets, red blood cells or plasma. Before a transfusion is started, blood is drawn and sent to the laboratory for typing and cross-matching.

Determining the blood type is vital since the red blood cells include antigens or protein markers that correspond to these blood types. If the laboratory provides the wrong blood type, the immune system will detect any foreign proteins on the red blood cells of the wrong blood type and attempt to destroy them.

Transfusion reactions
Some of the symptoms are mild and managed using acetaminophen to minimize the fever or pain.

The blood banks have careful testing processes to ensure that the blood is safe and typed for use. The doctor or nurse will explain any risks of the transfusion and closely monitor the individual while receiving the blood.

Possible indications of transfusion reactions

Most blood transfusion reactions take place while receiving blood or right after. The healthcare professional will stay with the individual while receiving the transfusion. The vital signs are checked and monitored for any symptoms.

The usual symptoms of transfusion reactions include the following:

  • Fever
  • Back pain
  • Flushed skin
  • Flank pain
  • Chills
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Blood-streaked urine

In some cases, the transfusion reactions occur days after a reaction. It is vital to pay close attention to the body after a transfusion and consult a doctor if there is something not right.


The blood banks ensure that blood is thoroughly screened and tested. A sample of the blood of the recipient is often combined with the possible donor blood to guarantee compatibility.

Prior to the administration of blood, the packaging label and identity is checked. This will ensure that the nurse is providing the proper blood product to the right recipient.

Management of transfusion reactions

Once transfusion reactions occur, the process should be stopped right away. A laboratory representative will draw blood and test it to ensure that they were properly matched.

Remember that transfusion reactions can vary in severity. Some of the symptoms are mild and managed using acetaminophen to minimize the fever or pain. The doctor might also administer intravenous fluids or even medications to minimize the possibility of shock and kidney failure.

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