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Who Needs a Blood Transfusion?

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

Some people who have surgery need blood transfusions because they lose blood during their operations. People who have serious injuries—for example, from car crashes, war, or natural disasters—also may need blood transfusions to replace blood lost during the injury.

Some people need blood or blood parts because of illnesses. For example, blood transfusions might be used to treat:

  • A severe infection or liver disease that stops your body from properly making blood or some blood parts.
  • An illness that causes anemia, such as kidney disease or cancer. Radiation treatment and some medicines 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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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

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.