A blood transfusion is a procedure in which a person receives blood intravenously from another person (donor). This is usually done when a person’s body cannot produce enough blood on its own or when the person goes through a trauma. There are different stages, and each has a different plan of action depending on the location of the blood transfusion. 

Different protocols are provided depending on the health facility and the patient’s condition, and the article will provide related information involved in a blood transfusion procedure to ensure a well-prepared for each stage of the transfusion.

What is the importance of blood transfusion?

Blood transfusions are critical in replacing blood loss during surgery to treat an injury, treat conditions such as anemia or hemophilia, and help with blood clotting disorders. Blood can be transfused in whole or part, like the kidney or entire body.

Blood transfusions are done in a hospital setup or medical center in a medical center. Trained medical professionals perform blood transfusions. There are also risks associated with blood transfusions, including allergic reactions, infection, and other complications. Careful screening and monitoring are used to minimize the risks associated with blood transfusion and ensure that transfusions are performed safely and effectively.

What to expect before, during, and after a blood transfusion?

There are three primary stages, each with different steps to avoid complications and get the maximum benefits of blood transfusion. 

  1. Steps to expect before blood transfusion
  2. Steps to expect during blood transfusion 
  3. Steps to expect after blood transfusion

What to expect before transfusion?

Medical evaluation

First, the patient’s medical history and current health are examined. Then specific transfusion requirements are assessed by doctors. This helps determine the importance of a blood transfusion and the appropriate blood product to give.

Blood typing and compatibility testing

A patient’s and donor’s blood type is only determined through blood typing. Blood typing is testing for antigens (A, B, AB, or O) and Rh factor (positive or negative). In addition, compatibility testing is conducted to check compatibility between the donor’s and recipient’s blood to prevent adverse reactions.


Informed consent is always taken from the patient or their legal guardian, having the purpose, risks, benefits, and alternatives of the transfusion written in it.


 Some patients may be prescribed medications, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids, to prevent or minimize potential allergic reactions or other complications during the transfusion.

What to expect during a transfusion?


It is when a healthcare professional inserts an intravenous (IV) needle into a vein. Sometimes, a central venous catheter may be inserted if the patient requires repeated transfusions.

Blood product administration

Any blood product, like packed red blood cells, platelets, or plasma, is usually slowly infused into the patient’s bloodstream by IV. The infusion rate depends on the patient’s condition and any pre-existing health concerns.


During the transfusion, vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc.) are checked to ensure the patient’s stability and detect any signs of adverse reactions.

Observation for adverse reactions

Healthcare providers monitor the patient very carefully for any signs of transfusion reactions. This close monitoring helps in taking immediate action if any adverse reactions occur.

What to expect after a transfusion?

Monitoring and observation

After the transfusion, the patient is monitored adequately to prevent delayed reactions or complications. This involves closely monitoring vital signs until the healthcare team is confident that the patient is stable.


Detailed records of the transfusion, which include which blood product was administered, the time of the transfusion, and any observations or reactions, are documented in the patient’s medical records.

Follow-up care

Additional care or monitoring may be required depending on the patient’s condition and specific circumstances, extra care or monitoring may be required. The healthcare team will provide instructions regarding any necessary follow-up appointments or precautions.

What type of blood transfusions are expected when transfusion is recommended?

Transfusions are recommended after a thorough examination of the patient. The type of transfusion would be recommended depending on the patient’s requirements and condition. Types of blood transfusions include:

  • Whole blood transfusion
  •  Packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusion
  •  Platelet transfusion
  •  Plasma transfusion
  •  Cryoprecipitate transfusion

What are the risks and side effects that can be expected after blood transfusions?

Blood transfusions can be considered safe but have risks and potential side effects. Some possible risks and side effects of blood transfusions include are:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Febrile non-hemolytic transfusion reaction
  • Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI)
  • Transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO)
  • Infections
  • Iron overload

These complications can be avoided by taking preventive and precautionary measures. Only well-trained health professionals should perform blood transfusions to minimize the risk factors caused by human error, which can be life-threatening. 


Blood transfusion is a medical procedure in which blood is transferred from a donor to a recipient. It is an essential treatment for people with cancer and anemia.

Though all preventive measures are taken before blood transfusion, there are still risks associated with transfusions, including allergic reactions, febrile non-hemolytic transfusion reactions, transfusion-related acute lung injury, transfusion-associated circulatory overload, etc. These reactions can occur after a blood transfusion. 

Overall, blood transfusion is a critical medical intervention and has the potential to save countless lives.

Another note is that details and protocols vary depending on the healthcare facility, country, and patient factors. Therefore, one should always consult with doctors for accurate and up-to-date information.

Dr. Irfan Siddique is a GMC-registered Medical Doctor with more than four years of post-graduation experience in child and adolescent healthcare. He has done his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the University of Health and Sciences, Lahore. Afterward, he was positioned at Children’s Hospital, Faisalabad, where he ran Outpatient Department for four years. Currently, he is performing his duties as Medical Doctor at St. Barts Health NHS Trust, London.