Blood Transfusion - PBM

Where does the blood used for a transfusion come from?

Canada's blood supply is considered one of the safest in the world. Blood is collected from healthy volunteer donors at Canadian Blood Services. Blood donors are asked many questions about their health, behavior and travel history in order to ensure that the blood supply is as safe as it can be. Only people who pass the survey are allowed to donate.

Donated blood is tested according to national guidelines. 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 or any question that the blood is not safe, or it may transmit disease. In an emergency, your doctor will decide whether to transfuse and what type of blood component or product to use.

What can I expect during the transfusion?

The nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse and temperature before the transfusion is started. The blood will be given through your IV. Two nurses will check the blood at your bedside before starting the transfusion.

A nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse and temperature after the transfusion has been running for 15 minutes and again when the blood is completed.

Your transfusion will take anywhere from One to three hours. It may take a little longer, or it may even take less time depending on what component (part) of blood you are receiving.

How do I know if I am having a reaction?

A reaction can occur during a transfusion, up to a day following the transfusion, or even up to several months after the transfusion. Your nurse will watch you closely for a reaction. If a reaction occurs, the transfusion will be stopped.

During your transfusion, please let your nurse know immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding, pain, or new bruising at the IV site
  • Severe back pain
  • Fever, chills
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Rash, hives, itching
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing, wheezing
  • Dark or reddish urine
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes

After the transfusion

If any of the listed symptoms develop after a blood transfusion, you may be having a transfusion reaction. If you are in the hospital, notify your nurse or doctor immediately.

If you have been discharged from the hospital and any of the above symptoms develop, contact your doctor immediately. If you are unable to reach your doctor, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

After your transfusion, you should rest and take care not to overexert yourself for at least 24 to 48 hours. Once you are discharged, call to schedule a follow-up appointment with your family physician.