Every year, millions of people in the U.S. receive lifesaving blood transfusions. So what exactly is a blood transfusion, anyway?
For the layperson, a blood transfusion is a common procedure whereby donated blood or blood components are delivered into a patient’s circulatory system through an IV line. A physician may determine a blood transfusion is necessary in the event a patient’s red blood cell count falls too low. Blood is usually transfused to replace these oxygen-carrying red cells in the body.
When might a hospital patient need a blood transfusion, you ask? Great question! A transfusion may be required for any number of reasons, including:
- Severe blood loss from accidents, gastrointestinal bleeding or after complicated childbirth.
- To support surgery or other medical procedures.
- For those at risk of complications caused by blood disorders such as hemophilia, von Willebrand disease, beta thalassemia or sickle cell disease.
Blood is essential for modern medical care. But this lifesaving care doesn’t come from nowhere: It starts with one person making a selfless blood donation — a person like you.
Donating blood is pretty easy and very safe, and it can save someone’s life. The entire process takes less than an hour, and the actual donation time only about 10 minutes. And when you donate blood, you’ll feel amazing, knowing you could save the lives of up to 3 people. Learn more about blood donation.
Your blood can help a lot of people, too: A single critically injured patient has the potential to nearly wipe out a hospital’s blood supply. Unfortunately, people are hurt every day in vehicular accidents, by violence, in construction mishaps, falls, or recreational injuries. Blood transfusion not only saves lives, it also boosts health and improves patients’ quality of life.
Certain medical conditions prevent the body from producing blood cells. Some diseases and even treatments can prevent the bone marrow from making blood. Chemotherapy, for example, actually lowers the production of new blood cells. In this scenario, a patient may require a blood transfusion until their body is able to produce their own blood cells.
You’ve probably gathered as much thus far, but it cannot be overstated: Blood is vital for patient care! If a patient doesn’t have enough blood in their body, they could face a life-threatening situation. Those experiencing substantial bleeding during surgery or due to a serious accident may have a blood volume too low to effectively carry oxygen throughout the body. When this occurs, a blood transfusion can be the difference between life and death.
That’s where you come in — about 1 in 7 people entering a hospital needs blood, and each patient is somebody’s loved one, meaning your donation impacts many people.
But there are alternatives to blood transfusion, right? Technically, yes, but these alternatives are not the magic bullet you may think and may not work in every situation. Medications can help your body produce blood, but if you’ve lost too much blood, whether from physical trauma or during surgery, you’ll likely need a transfusion. Alternative options won’t help quickly enough.
You may be wondering, if blood is such a big deal, why don’t scientists just create it synthetically from scratch? The answer is quite simple, really: They can’t. Despite advancements in technology happening all the time, blood cannot be manufactured and can only come from volunteer donors, people who understand that it’s the right thing to do!
Blood donors, including repeat donors and those who have never given before, are needed to help keep the donations flowing. A single blood donation, amounting to only an hour of your time, can help others in their time of greatest need. Learn about people who survived because of the selfless actions of blood donors.
Blood transfusion saves lives every day, and they all begin with a selfless donor and everyday act of heroism — a choice you can make right now.
Published by: Jeremy T. — Vitalant Contributor