Blood Transfusion & Surgery - PBM

What is normally present in blood?

Blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets floating in liquid called plasma. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to all tissues of the body. White blood cells fight infection. Plasma contains many factors including those necessary for clotting. Platelets are also involved in the prevention of bleeding.

What is a blood transfusion?

A transfusion is when you receive a blood component or blood product through an intravenous tube in your arm. A blood component is made when donor blood is separated into different parts. Some examples of these blood components are:

  • Red blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Plasma and cryoprecipitate
  • Blood products are albumin and clotting factors

Where does the blood used for a blood transfusion come from?

Blood is collected from healthy volunteer donors at the Canadian Blood Services. Each time blood is donated, it is tested for syphilis, hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and other viruses. Blood is NOT used for transfusion if there is any concern it may transmit disease. In an emergency, your doctor will decide whether to transfuse and what type of blood component or product to use.

Informed Consent

If your doctor prescribes a blood transfusion of either blood components or products for you, he or she will explain the benefits and risks of the transfusion and ask you to sign a consent form for the treatment. These risks and benefits will differ depending on what component or product you are to receive and on your illness or condition. If you have any questions or there is anything that you don’t understand, you should ask your doctor prior to signing the consent form.

What are some of the frequently asked questions about blood transfusions?

You may need a transfusion for many reasons to:

  • Increase red blood cells, therefore increasing oxygen circulating in your blood to support body functions
  • Replace clotting factor or platelets in your blood to help stop bleeding
  • Replace blood loss that cannot be retrieved because of trauma or injury
  • Replace blood loss resulting from treatment or procedure that may cause your blood cells to be lower for a time