Blood transfusions are medical procedures in which the blood from one person is transferred to another. A person’s blood type will determine what type of blood donor will be used for the transfusion. However, not all donors have to be from another person. If scheduled beforehand, a patient can choose to have her blood collected and stored, then later used in the procedure.
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The purpose of blood transfusions are generally the same. Anyone who has suffered massive blood loss will go through a blood transfusion procedure. This is because blood contains oxygen, and when a person losses massive amounts of blood, his body will be unable to deliver oxygen to important organs, such as the heart and brain, thus compromising the health and viability of those organs.
Blood transfusions are common among patients who have suffered injuries caused in major traumas or who are undergoing major surgical procedures. But it is performed for non-traumatic or non-surgical reasons as well. For instance, anemics, who are unable to supply their own blood, often undergo regular blood transfusion procedures. Not all blood loss requires transfusions. Patients who have lost small amounts of blood can be given salt solutions to replace the blood loss.
Blood transfusions are simple procedures. A small needle is inserted into an IV line containing the donor's blood. The needle is inserted into the patient’s blood vessel. The blood is then pumped through the line and is transferred into the patient’s body. The procedure can last up to one to four hours, depending on the amount of blood the patient has lost.
Blood type plays a significant role in transfusions. Everyone has a blood type: A, B, AB and O. Some blood types are either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. Recipients who are either positive or negative are compatible only with donors who share their positive or negative blood make-up. A person who is Rh-positive will become sick if given blood from a donor who is Rh-negative. The antibodies or protein in the blood will attack any blood that does not share its similar make-up. However, other blood types do not have this problem. AB types are compatible with any type of donor. They are called universal recipients. Meanwhile, Type O, which is a fairly common blood type, is compatible with most recipients. Type O blood types are called universal donors.
Blood banks are familiar to anyone who has ever donated blood. Blood banks generally collect and store donated blood for emergency transfusion procedures. Blood banks also screen donated blood to ensure that blood that has viruses or diseases do not get into the general public. During the AIDs epidemic of the 1980s, scores of tainted blood was released into the general public, infecting many blood transfusion patients. Therefore, blood banks go through a rigorous procedure to test and screen blood before supplying it to hospitals. Blood banks will also remove white blood cells before transfusion. White blood cells can cause an allergic reaction in some recipients.
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