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Who Needs a Blood Transfusion?

Blood transfusions are very common. Each year, almost 5 million Americans need blood transfusions. This procedure is used for people of all ages.

Many people who have surgery need blood transfusions because they lose blood during their operations. For example, about one-third of all heart surgery patients have a transfusion.

Some people who have serious injuries—such as from car crashes, war, or natural disasters—need blood transfusions to replace blood lost during the injury.

Some people need blood or parts of blood because of illnesses. You may need a blood transfusion if you have:

  • A severe infection or liver disease that stops your body from properly making blood or some parts of blood.
  • An illness that causes anemia, such as kidney disease or cancer. Medicines or radiation used to treat a medical condition also can cause anemia. There are many types of anemia, including aplastic, Fanconi, hemolytic, iron-deficiency, and sickle cell anemias and thalassemia (thal-ah-SE-me-ah).
  • A bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia or thrombocytopenia (THROM-bo-si-to-PE-ne-ah).
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January 30, 2012