What are blood transfusion risks?
Blood transfusion errors can occur in about 1 out of 14,000 transfusions. Most transfusion reactions occur because of errors made in matching the recipient’s blood to the blood transfused.
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These administrative errors may occur because of mislabeled blood samples or misread labels. Even receiving the correct blood type sometimes results in a mild transfusion reaction.These reactions may be mild or severe.
- Most mild reactions are not life-threatening when treated quickly.
- Severe transfusion reactions can be life-threatening, but this is very rare.
- Mild allergic reactions may involve itching,hives, wheezing, and fever.
- Severe reactions may cause anaphylactic shock.
There are several immune-related transfusion reactions:
- A nonhemolytic fever reaction cause fever and chills without destruction (hemolysis) of the red blood cells. These problems occur because the body mistakes the new blood as harmful and makes specific antibodies to destroy it. This is the most common transfusion reaction. It can occur even when the blood has been correctly matched and administered. The more transfusions you receive, the greater your risk for this type of reaction. Careful screening helps reduce the risk for these problems.
- A hemolytic transfusion reaction can cause the most serious problems, and can be life-threatening. These reactions can occur when your ABO or Rh blood type and that of the transfused blood do not match. If this happens, your immune system attacks the transfused red blood cells.
- A mild hemolytic transfusion reaction can happen when there is a mismatch of one of the more than 100 minor blood types. Most of the time, these reactions to the minor blood types are less serious than a mismatch of the ABO or Rh blood types.
- An immune reaction to platelets in transfused blood results in the destruction of the transfused platelets. People who have this type of reaction may have trouble finding blood that can be transfused without causing a reaction. In rare cases, an immune reaction may take place that attacks the person’s lungs (transfusion-related acute lung injury). This results in trouble breathing and other symptoms.
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