How Safe are Blood Transfusions at Home?
What is a blood transfusion?
A blood transfusion is a standard medical procedure in which whole blood or a component of blood is given to a person through an intravenous (IV) line inserted in one of your blood vessels.
Blood transmits oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body and replaces the blood loss due to injury, surgery or if your body is not producing blood properly.
What are the components of blood?
Blood is made of the following components
- Red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body
- White blood cells which fight the infection
- Platelets that help your blood to clot
- Plasma contains proteins to help you fight infection and plays a major role in the clotting mechanism.
Types of Blood Transfusion?
Blood used for transfusions is mostly donated by volunteers. If needed, a person can also have their own blood collected and stored a few weeks before surgery. Four types of blood products can be provided through blood transfusions: red blood cells, platelets, whole blood, and plasma.
Red Blood Cell Transfusions
Patients suffering from iron deficiency or anemia, a condition where the body does not have enough red blood cells, may get a red blood cell transfusion. This type of transfusion increases a patient’s iron and hemoglobin levels while increasing the amount of oxygen in the body.
Platelets are a component of blood that prevents the body from bleeding. When a patient’s body does not produce enough platelets, they need frequent transfusions to stay healthy. Other patients may include those who have leukemia or different types of cancer. Patients with cancer usually have lower platelet counts due to chemotherapy.
Plasma is the liquid part of the blood and consists of proteins and other substances essential for the body’s function. Patients with severe infections, liver failure, and serious burns usually receive plasma transfusions.
Whole blood transfusion
A person may need a whole blood transfusion if they have had severe traumatic bleeding from accidents, surgeries, or injuries and need red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
What are the Benefits of Blood Transfusion at Home?
The following are the benefits of getting a blood transfusion at home:
- Convenient, stress free and can be done within the comfort of your home.
- Personalized attention at home as compared to a hospital ward.
- Avoids the need for supporting family members to take days off from work.
- Avoids hospital visits.
- Less risk of hospital-acquired infections.
- Hassle-free process of getting the consumables and other necessary equipment required for the transfusion at home.
- Cost-effective when compared to a hospital.
Who needs a blood transfusion?
When the body lacks enough blood to function properly, blood transfusions are necessary. For example, if a person has suffered a severe injury or lost blood during surgery, they may require a blood transfusion.
Some people require blood transfusions due to medical conditions or disorders, such as
- Anemia: occurs when a person’s blood does not have enough red blood cells. This can occur due to many reasons, such as low iron levels in the body, known as iron deficiency anemia.
- Hemophilia: is a bleeding disorder wherein a person’s blood cannot clot properly.
- Cancer: occurs when cells in the body separate and spread to the surrounding tissues.
- Kidney disease: Kidney failure is an important cause of anemia. A patient may need a transfusion if the blood count is low despite iron replacement.
- Sickle cell disease: Blood transfusions are an important restorative intervention for sickle cell patients. They help increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood and reduce the complications of vaso-occlusion (occurs when sickled red blood cells obstruct blood flow, depriving tissues of oxygen)
- Liver disease: A plasma transfusion replaces the proteins in the blood that help it clot. This may be required after severe bleeding or in the case of a patient with liver disease.
What kind of reactions can happen during a blood transfusion?
Most of the patients do not develop any reaction due to blood transfusion. However, certain patients may experience the following symptoms
- Fever with chills
- Pain in abdomen
- Breathing difficulty with wheezing
- Fast heartbeat
- Dark colored urine
How Safe is Blood Transfusion?
Generally, blood transfusions are quite safe since donated blood is tested, handled, and stored carefully. However, there is a minute chance that your body may have a mild to severe reaction to the donor blood.
Other risks include fever, heart or lung complications, alloimmunization, and rare but severe reactions in which donated white blood cells attack healthy tissues in your body.
Those who receive frequent transfusions may suffer health problems because of the high iron content. There is also a mild chance of getting an infectious disease such as HIV or hepatitis B or C through a blood transfusion.
Even though blood transfusions are one of the most common medical procedures in the world, proper research and medical management ensure that the supply of donated blood is very safe.
In case you develop a reaction during the blood transfusion, the doctor and nurse will assess your condition and provide emergency treatment. Most of the time, a patient develops a mild transfusion reaction which can be managed at home. In case of any severe reaction, the doctor will advise transferring the patient to the nearby hospital for further treatment.
Apollo home health care is one of India’s leading home healthcare organizations. In response to the growing need for blood transfusions at home, we have launched a program that arranges blood transfusions at home for patients who are suitable to receive blood or blood components at home as directed by their physician.