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Blood Transfusion

A blood transfusion is usually an immediate intervention in acute anemia situations, but it can be continued at regular intervals for long periods of time. Receiving donor blood will increase your blood's ability to carry oxygen. It is important to note that a blood transfusion is rarely needed for nutritional anemia.

During a transfusion, a needle is placed in one of your veins. A bag containing the blood product is hung on a pole nearby, and its contents are dripped slowly, through an IV into your bloodstream. Throughout the transfusion, your temperature, heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure are checked regularly, and you are questioned about pain, itching, or discomfort of any sort. This monitoring is most careful during the first 15 minutes of the transfusion, since most severe reactions occur early in a blood transfusion. Once the bag containing the blood product is empty, the needle in your arm is removed.


Anemia—differential diagnosis. Updated September 23, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2015.

Decreased erythropoiesis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated May 2013. Accessed September 29, 2015.

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. McGraw-Hill; 2004.

How is anemia treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Updated May 18, 2012. Accessed September 29, 2015.

Last reviewed September 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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