Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are there dangers involved with a blood transfusion?"
About to have surgery on my shoulder, but I know anything can happen when you go under the knife. What if I need a blood transfusion or something? Is it dangerous? Could you get a disease like AIDS from it?
First of all, I have to remark that blood transfusions are safely received by millions of people every year without any problem at all. Doctors and blood banks work really hard to make sure that blood transfusions are safe, and most of the time they are. There are, however, some risks associated with blood transfusions. Most people have heard of the risk of infections like AIDS or hepatitis from blood transfusions. These days, blood is extensively tested for infections, so the chance of getting an infection from a blood transfusion is very, very small. More likely is what is called a transfusion reaction. This occurs when your body reacts to the foreign blood cells in the transfusion. Virtually all transfusion reactions are minor, causes just a rash or small fever. However, rarely, transfusions reactions can be very serious, even life-threatening. Because of these risks, which are overall quite small, your doctor will always weigh the risks and benefits of a blood transfusion before giving you one. You will always have the opportunity to talk to your doctor about the transfusion beforehand, and you will always have the opportunity to refuse the transfusion if you wish or to ask any questions you might have.
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