Receiving a Blood Transfusion
Before you receive a
blood transfusion, your blood is tested to
determine your blood type. Blood or blood components
that are compatible with your
blood type are ordered by the doctor. This blood may
be retested in the hospital laboratory to confirm its type. A sample of your
blood is then mixed with a sample of the blood you will receive to check that
no problems result, such as red blood cell destruction (hemolysis) or clotting.
This process of checking blood types and mixing samples of the two blood
sources is called typing and crossmatching.
Before actually giving
you the transfusion, a doctor or nurse will examine the label on the
package of blood and compare it to your blood type as listed on your medical
record. Only when all agree that this is the correct blood and that you are the
correct recipient will the transfusion begin. Giving you the wrong blood type
can result in a mild to serious
If you have banked
your own blood in preparation for surgery (autologous donation), typing and
crossmatching is not needed. But the doctors and nurses still examine the label
to confirm that it is the blood you donated and that you are the right
recipient. For more information on this option, see:
- Blood Transfusions: Should I Bank Blood Before Surgery?
Sometimes a doctor will recommend that you take
acetaminophen (such as Tylenol),
antihistamines (such as Benadryl), or other medicines
to help prevent mild reactions, like a fever or
hives, from a blood transfusion. Your doctor can treat
more severe reactions as they occur.
To receive the transfusion,
you will have an intravenous (IV) catheter inserted into a vein. A tube
connects the catheter to the bag containing the transfusion, which is placed
higher than your body. The transfusion then flows slowly into your vein. A
doctor or nurse will check you several times during the transfusion to watch
for a transfusion reaction or other problem.