Blood Transfusion Reactions
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
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?
- You had a blood transfusion before. Your immune system will attack donor blood the next time you get a transfusion.
- You have been pregnant. You may be more sensitive to donor blood after you are exposed to a baby’s blood during pregnancy.
What are the signs and symptoms of an immediate reaction?
Healthcare providers will stop the transfusion if you have any of the following:
- A strong feeling of dread or that something is wrong
- Fainting or breathing problems
- Fever and chills
- Itching, hives, or swelling
- Pain or burning in your abdomen, chest, or back, or at the transfusion site
- Swelling and a large bruise at the transfusion site
- Blood in your urine
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
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.
- A high fever and chills
- Dizziness or fainting
- Little or no urination
- Headaches, double vision, or seizures
- Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Bruises, fatigue, or weakness
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:
- Medicines may be given to decrease itching and swelling from a mild reaction. Epinephrine is an emergency medicine given when antihistamines do not stop an allergic reaction. You may also need medicine to relax muscles in your throat and chest to help you breathe, or to raise your blood pressure. Medicine may also be given to lower a fever.
- Fluids may be given through your IV to prevent your blood pressure from falling too low. IV fluids will also help your kidneys get rid of donor red blood cells that your immune system has destroyed.
How can I help prevent another blood transfusion reaction?
- Give complete health information. Tell your healthcare providers about your health conditions, transfusions, and pregnancies.
- Alert your healthcare providers about any problems. Tell your healthcare providers right away if something feels wrong. They will stop the transfusion and treat your symptoms. Pain, nausea, itching, or a large bruise at the transfusion site are good reasons to stop the transfusion.
- Ask if you can use your own blood. You may be able to get your own blood during surgery. Your blood will need to be drawn and stored a few weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Carry medical alert identification. Wear jewelry or carry a card that says you had a blood transfusion reaction. Healthcare providers may give you medicine before the transfusion to prevent a reaction.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have a skin rash, hives, swelling, or itching.
- You have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.
- Your throat tightens or your lips or tongue swell.
- You have difficulty swallowing or speaking.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You have a seizure.
- You have a headache or double vision.
- You are lightheaded, confused, or feel like you are going to faint.
- You have nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps, or you are vomiting.
- You see pinpoint purple spots or purple patches on your body.
- You feel dizzy and weak about 7 days after your transfusion.
- Your skin feels sweaty and cold.
- Your lips or fingernails look blue.
- Your skin or the whites of your eyes look yellow.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- You have questions or concerns about blood transfusions.
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Can I Donate?
Many potential blood donors believe that they can’t donate blood due to medical or other reasons. But whether you’ve heard or read information about donation restrictions or been turned down in the past, please do not self defer. Y ou may be able to say “Yes I can!” and share your power through blood donation. If you have questions about any of the subjects below, please contact us for more information.
Anemia is a condition that, if caused by low iron body reserves, can be corrected with a change in diet. Eating many types of red meat, fortified cereal and leafy green vegetables may help. Find out more about low iron and foods high in iron here.
While many medications may prevent you from giving blood, you may still be able to donate while taking medications in the treatment of non-infectious diseases such as arthritis, chronic pain, gout, etc.
High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is under control, you may still be able to donate blood while taking most medications for high blood pressure.
If your diabetes is being treated and is under control, you are most likely able to donate blood. You should let your doctor know that you plan to donate.
Most localized skin cancers are not a reason to stop you from donating blood. Because many different types of cancer exist, we will ask you a few questions regarding your diagnosis, and in some cases the blood center medical director may make the final determination on the deferral. Most often, people who are free of relapse a year after completion of treatment are able to donate blood.
Tattoos and Body Piercing
People who received a tattoo at a state-licensed and regulated facility are now eligible to donate once the area has healed. People who received a tattoo at a non-regulated facility must wait 12-months before they can donate.
People who received any type of body piercing done with single use equipment are now eligible to donate once the area has healed. All other types of piercings require a 12-month wait before donating.
OneBlood welcomes blood donations from donors 16 years old and older. 16 year-old donors, however, must present a signed permission form from their parent or a guardian before the donation.
And you are never too old to donate. If you are in good health, and qualify for other eligibility guidelines, you can donate blood regardless of age. A number of regular donors over the age of 80 give blood with OneBlood.
Travel or Former Residence
Those who lived in the United Kingdom for a total of 3 months or more from 1980-1996, as well as long term residents in several European countries during that period, are ineligible to donate blood. There are several travel locations that may cause a 1-year deferral, such as parts of Mexico, China and the Philippines, as well as tropical areas where malaria is endemic.
Surgery or Minor Illnesses
Donors are required to feel well at the time of donation, so a cold, flu or allergies may temporarily prevent someone from donating. Donors must wait at least 24 hours for many minor surgeries, including dental work. Donors should rely on our screening process to determine surgery or illness deferrals. Many times the blood center medical director may make this determination.
Pregnant women are not eligible to donate blood, but they become eligible six weeks after giving birth. Women who are nursing are encouraged to drink plenty of water both before and after donating blood.
Because of a medical condition known TRALI (transfusion-related acute lung injury), blood centers may question women about prior pregnancies. The question is intended to protect the recipient of the donated blood, since pregnancy may cause women to develop antibodies that could harm a recipient patient.
FDA Policy Regarding Men Who Have Sex With Men
OneBlood’s role is to provide safe, available and affordable blood to its hospital partners and their patients. The blood center is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a regulated agency, OneBlood, like all blood centers in the United States, is required by law to follow all rules, guidelines and deferral policies put in place by the FDA. Click here to read more.
Why am i so cold after giving blood
At Carter BloodCare, all types of people give blood at our various blood centers to save lives. Our donors consist of athletes, dancers, singers, artists, nurses and more. Some of our donors work physical jobs and need to be cautious after donating. We suggest that those with strenuous jobs should donate at the end of their work shift. We have some helpful tips to take into consideration for those of you who hit the gym daily and/or do anything but sit at a desk.
Whether you are a basketball player, construction worker, a physical trainer or just someone who exercises daily, you need to take it easy after giving blood. High-intensity exercise after donation can cause fainting and may increase the risk of excessive bleeding from the area where the needle enters your skin. We highly suggest drinking a lot of fluids and waiting 24 hours after your blood donation to perform physically-strenuous activities. Similar to exercising, giving blood makes you feel great, so treat it as a day to relax and pat yourself on the back! Besides, you just saved three lives, so it’s time to reward yourself with a break!
It is always best to eat a low-fat meal within two to four hours before giving blood and drinking a great deal of water or juice before as well as after donating. Alcoholic beverages should be avoided 12 hours before and after donation.
Also, if you happen to exercise before you give blood, make sure to be well hydrated and eat before your blood donation. Not sure how to tell if you are hydrated?
Here are some signs of dehydration:
- Dark urine
- Decreased urine output
- Dry mouth
For tips on staying hydrated, visit the American Heart Association’s website.
For more information about giving blood and your health visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-366-2834.