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Types of Blood Transfusions

Blood is transfused either as whole blood (with all its parts) or, more often, as individual parts. The type of blood transfusion you need depends on your situation.

For example, if you have an illness that stops your body from properly making part of your blood, you may need only that part to treat the illness.

Red Blood Cell Transfusions

Red blood cells are the most commonly transfused part of the blood. These cells carry oxygen from the lungs to your body's organs and tissues. Red blood cells also help your body get rid of carbon dioxide and other waste products.

You may need a transfusion of red blood cells if you've lost blood due to surgery or an injury. You also may need this type of transfusion if you have severe anemia (uh-NEE-me-uh) due to a disease or blood loss.

Anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. Anemia also can occur if your red blood cells don't have enough hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin).

Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color. This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Platelet and Clotting Factor Transfusions

Platelets and clotting factors help stop bleeding, including internal bleeding that you can't see. Some illnesses can prevent your body from making enough platelets or clotting factors. If you have one of these illnesses, you might need regular platelet or clotting factor transfusions to stay healthy.

For example, if you have hemophilia (heem-o-FILL-ee-ah), you may need a special clotting factor to replace the clotting factor you're lacking. Hemophilia is a rare, inherited bleeding disorder in which the blood doesn't clot normally.

If you have hemophilia, you may bleed for a longer time than others after an injury or accident. You also may bleed internally, especially in the joints (knees, ankles, and elbows).

Plasma Transfusions

Plasma is the liquid part of your blood. It's mainly water, but it also contains proteins, clotting factors, hormones, vitamins, cholesterol, sugar, sodium, potassium, calcium, and more.

If you have been badly burned or have liver failure or a severe infection, you may need a plasma transfusion.

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Blood Transfusion Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Blood Transfusion, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

 
January 30, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.

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