On the day

Receiving your transfusion safely involves a number of important steps which involve you, and hospital and laboratory staff.

How will I receive a transfusion?

A transfusion is given through a drip (also known as an IV),
which is a soft plastic tube inserted into your vein, usually in your arm.
The transfusion may feel cold, but should not hurt.
You will be carefully monitored during your transfusion.

Who will administer the transfusion?

A check of the blood product must be performed at your bedside by two clinical staff, one of whom is required to be a registered nurse or a medical practitioner. One of the staff members performing the check will then administer the transfusion.

Safety tip: The most avoidable risk of transfusion is being given the wrong blood (meant for someone else). To assist in this process make sure you are always wearing your identification band and you have checked the details are correct. If the details are not correct make sure you tell your nurse or doctor.

How long does it take?

The time your transfusion will take depends on your condition. In an urgent circumstance, if you are losing
a large amount of blood quickly, it can be given as fast as your body will allow. In non-urgent circumstances,
one bag of red cells usually takes about two hours to be transfused. One bag of red cells should never be transfused for longer than four hours.

Will it hurt?

When the needle is inserted, you may feel a prick or a stinging sensation. Most people do not feel anything
during the blood transfusion. Some may feel pressure as the blood goes in.

What happens during my transfusion?

You will be closely monitored throughout your transfusion. If you feel uneasy, unwell or notice anything that you did not have before your transfusion began, let one of the nurses or doctors know immediately.

Transfusion reactions can occur during your transfusion or they may be delayed and occur once your transfusion has finished. The majority of reactions are not severe and can be corrected with minor medical intervention. Signs and symptoms to look out for during your transfusion include but are not limited to the list below. If you feel any of these call the nurse immediately:

  • rash
  • itching
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • high temperature
  • pain at the needle site
  • dark or decreased amount of urine
  • chills
  • shaking
 
Resources 

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