Blood Transfusion Confusion: What Is Compatibility And Why Is It Needed?

All about Blood transfusion

Blood transfusion is a medical procedure that allows a person in need of blood to receive it. Part of a routine medical procedure, it involves the use of equipment that allows the transfer of blood from the donor to the recipient. The procedure is not a direct transfer of blood, as most cases involve the use of a blood bag.

The following article walks you through the concept of blood transfusion and the need for it. The article also discusses the complications that the recipient may experience.

What Is a Blood Transfusion?  

What Is a Blood Transfusion?  

Blood transfusion is a simple life-saving procedure that has proven benefits in improving the quality of life of patients. People who receive blood transfusions can be in car accidents that lead to a huge loss of blood.

Blood has several components that can help a person improve their condition. The following components can either be given to a patient separately as per their need or it may be given to them as a whole. Following makeup the different components of blood:

  • Red cells- These contain a special protein that carries oxygen around the body. Additionally, it also plays a role in waste product removal.  
  • White cells- These have a major role in fighting infections.
  • Platelets- These assist in blood clotting, which helps stop bleeding through cuts in your skin.
  • Plasma- Plasma is the liquid base of the blood. The above three components when removed from the blood, leave behind the plasma.

The most commonly transfused part of the blood is the red blood cells.

Blood Types and Compatibility  

Blood Types and Compatibility  

There are mainly four blood types. The difference in the presence or absence of RhD factor can also confer a different blood group for a person. They are as follows:

– Type A, it can either be A+ or A-

– Type B, it can either be B+ or B-

– Type AB, similarly can be either AB+ or AB –

– Type O, which is the absence of any of the antigens. It can also be either O+ or O-.

The following table provides a look at the compatibility:

Recipient Blood TypeMatching Donor Blood Type
A+A+, A-, O+, O-
A-A-, O-
B+B+, B-, O+, O-
B-B-, O-
AB+All blood types
AB-AB-, A-, B-, O-
O+O+, O-

The people with AB blood group are often known as universal recipients. This is because they do not contain antibodies against either type A or type B in their plasma. This leaves no room for a complication during the transfusion.

Reasons for Blood Transfusions  

Reasons for Blood Transfusions  

The reasons for blood transfusion may be several such as the following-

  1. Severe accident such as a natural calamity or car crash which has led to a lot of blood loss.
  2. Sometimes blood transfusion is also carried out during surgery where a lot of blood loss is anticipated or the procedure can lead to a lot of its loss.
  3. If a person has a bleeding disorder then they may be in constant need of blood transfusion.
  4. Disease is also a reason why someone may require blood transfusions at regular intervals. Conditions such as anemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease and some cancers may require a person to undergo transfusion.

The Transfusion Process  

The Blood Transfusion Process  

The process of transfusion is a fairly easy and low-risk procedure- however, it requires the presence of a skilled professional. Following are the steps:

  1. The recipient’s blood is tested for determining the blood type before the procedure- this includes making sure if your blood has a Rh positive or Rh negative factor.  
  2. The donor’s blood will be checked for compatibility so that there is no complication.
  3. Identification helps in minimizing the risk to both the recipient and the donor.
  4. Next, an intravenous line insertion is completed in one of the blood vessels. This creates a channel for the donated blood to enter the recipient’s body.
  5. The procedure is carried out when the recipient is lying down or seated.
  6. The donated blood that is stored in the plastic bag enters the bloodstream through the IV.
  7. It is normal to feel uneasy during the procedure.
  8. The IV line and the needle are removed. It is normal to notice a bruise around the needle site.
  9. If you experience other complications associated with transfusion.

Risks and Complications  

The following risks can be seen post the procedure:

  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Unusual itching
  • Sense of uneasiness
  • Back pain or chest pain

Apart from these the following complications are also observed in the recipient:

There is a small chance that despite the strict standards that the healthcare industry follows for the blood they use during transfusion. There are chances you may even experience

  •   There is a 1 chance in 1.5 million donations that they recipient will develop HIV
  • A 1 chance in 1.2 million donations that the recipient develops Hepatitis C
  • A recipient may even be that one person out of 293,000 donations to develop Hepatitis B
  • Whereas, at least 1 in 100,000 transfusions may lead to bacterial contamination

Advancements in Blood Transfusion Medicine  

A new information technology system allows the healthcare professionals to design out any error that may occur during transfusions.

This will include a unique barcode on the patient’s wristband, which will also be present on the blood units prepared for them.

The other advancements include:

  1. Hematopoietic stem cell donation
  2. Self-sufficiency in blood components and products
  3. Patient and donor blood management
  4. Development of artificial blood from culture plate
  5. Genetic modification of blood cells, targeted for laboratory production

Safety Protocols

The safety protocols that are taken during the process includes sterile conditions during storage and handling. The blood units that are present for the recipients undergo appropriate testing, which includes-

  • ABO typing
  • Rh blood group typing
  • Antibody screening
  • Serologic testing for infections such as transfusion-transmitted infections


Blood transfusion is a medical procedure that enables a person to receive blood that is compatible. The compatibility of the blood is determined by the tests that are conducted. Blood donations cannot be forced, however, it is always best to consult the physician.

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