Blood Transfusion in Children
A blood transfusion is a procedure in which your child receives donated blood, including plasma, platelets, and red blood cells, through an IV tube. Your child may need a blood transfusion because of illness, surgery, or injury.
The blood may come from a donor, or from your child’s own blood (autologous blood donation) that he or she donated previously.
The blood given in a transfusion is made up of different types of cells. Your child may receive:
- Red blood cells. These carry oxygen to the cells in the body. Red blood cells are the most common type of transfusion.
- White blood cells. These help your child fight infections.
- Platelets. This helps your child’s blood to clot.
- Plasma. This is the liquid part of the blood and helps with fluid imbalances.
If your child has hemophilia or another clotting disorder, your child may also receive other types of blood products.
Tell a health care provider about:
- Any allergies your child has.
- All medicines your child is taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
- Any problems your child has or members of your family have had with the use of anesthetics.
- Any blood disorders your child has.
- Any surgeries your child has had.
- Any medical conditions your child has, including any recent fever or cold symptoms.
- Any previous reactions your child has had during a blood transfusion.
What are the risks?
Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:
- Having an allergic reaction to something in the donated blood. Hives and itching may be symptoms of this type of reaction.
- Fever. This may be a reaction to the white blood cells in the transfused blood. Nausea or chest pain may accompany a fever.
- Iron overload. This can happen from having many transfusions.
- Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). This is a rare reaction that causes lung damage. The cause is not known. TRALI can occur within hours of a transfusion or several days later.
- Sudden (acute) or delayed hemolytic reactions. This happens if your child’s blood does not match the cells in the transfusion. Your child’s body’s defense (immune) system may try to attack the new cells. This complication is rare. The symptoms include fever, nausea, low back pain or chest pain, and chills.
- Infection or disease transmission. This is rare.
What happens before the procedure?
- Your child will have a blood test to determine his or her blood type. This is necessary to know what kind of blood your child’s body will accept and to match it to the donor blood.
- If your child is going to have a planned surgery and he or she is at least 13 years old, your child may be able to do an autologous blood donation. This may be done in case he or she needs to have a transfusion.
- If your child has had an allergic reaction to a transfusion in the past, your child may be given medicine to help prevent a reaction. Your child will be given this medicine by mouth or through an IV.
- Your child will have his or her temperature, blood pressure, and pulse monitored before the transfusion.
- Follow instructions from your child’s health care provider about eating and drinking restrictions.
your child’s health care provider about:
- Changing or stopping your child’s regular medicines. This is especially important if your child is taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
- Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your child’s blood. Do not give your child these medicines before the procedure if your child’s health care provider instructs you not to.
What happens during the procedure?
- An IV tube will be inserted into one of your child’s veins.
- The bag of donated blood will be attached to your child’s IV tube. The blood will then enter through your child’s vein.
- Your child’s temperature, blood pressure, and pulse will be monitored regularly during the transfusion. This monitoring is done to detect early signs of a transfusion reaction.
- If your child has any signs or symptoms of a reaction, your child’s transfusion will be stopped and your child may be given medicine.
- When the transfusion is complete, your child’s IV will be removed.
- Pressure may be applied to the IV site for a few minutes.
The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.
What happens after the procedure?
- Your child’s temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored often.
- Your child’s blood may be tested to see how he or she is responding to the transfusion.
- Your child may be warmed with fluids or blankets to maintain a normal body temperature.
- A blood transfusion is a procedure in which your child receives donated blood, including plasma, platelets, and red blood cells, through an IV tube.
- Blood transfusion is safe, though some problems may occur, including allergic reaction, fever, injury to the lungs, and other reactions.
- Your child’s temperature, blood pressure, and pulse will be monitored regularly during and after the transfusion.
- Your child’s blood may be tested to see how he or she responds to the transfusion.
Care After Blood Transfusion in Children
What can I expect after the procedure?
After the procedure, it is common for your child to have:
- Bruising and soreness at the IV site.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Give your child over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by his or her health care provider.
your child return to his or her normal activities as told by your child’s
health care provider.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before you change your child’s bandage (dressing). If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Change your child’s dressing as told by your child’s health care provider.
Check your child’s IV insertion site every day for signs of infection. Check for:
- Redness, swelling, or pain.
- Fluid or blood.
- Pus or a bad smell.
Contact a health care provider if:
- Your child’s IV insertion site becomes red or painful, or if it swells.
- Your child has fluid or blood coming from the IV insertion site.
- Your child’s IV insertion site feels warm to the touch.
- Your child has pus or a bad smell coming from the IV insertion site.
- Your child feels weak after doing his or her normal activities.
Get help right away if:
child has signs of a serious allergic or immune system reaction,
- Trouble breathing.
- Chest or lower back pain.
- Fever, flushing, and chills.
- Rapid pulse.
- Dark urine.
- Serious headache.
- Stiff neck.
- Yellow coloration of the face, or if the white parts of your child’s eyes turn yellow (jaundice).
- After the procedure, your child may have mild bruising and soreness at the site where the IV was placed.
- Check your child’s IV insertion site every day for signs of infection.
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child’s health care provider.
- Contact your child’s health care provider if you notice symptoms that may indicate a reaction to the blood transfusion.