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When a person is severely anemic (has a low blood count), giving that person a blood transfusion may be necessary and can be lifesaving. Blood for transfusion comes from blood donation from another person. The donated blood is screened at the blood bank for blood type, antibodies that could cause harmful reactions, and infectious diseases before it is processed and stored. When the donated blood is needed, it is cross-matched to make sure it is suitable for the recipient (the person receiving the blood).
Blood transfusion is very common. In the United States, more than 40 000 units of blood are transfused every day. In addition to red blood cells, other components (products in blood) are available for transfusion when needed. These other blood components include platelets, freshly frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate, and specific clotting factors found in blood.
It is important to balance the risks and benefits of blood transfusion for each individual patient and situation.
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page Index on JAMA's website at www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on blood donation was published in the May 21, 2008, issue; one on hepatitis B was published in the April 13, 2011, issue; one on hepatitis C was published in the February 21, 2007, issue; and one on human immunodeficiency virus was published in the July 21, 2010, issue.
Sources: American Association of Blood Banks; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Red Cross; American Society of Anesthesiologists; Society of Critical Care Medicine
Topic: CRITICAL CARE
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776.
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Golub RM. Blood Transfusion. JAMA. 2012;307(22):2448. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6179
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