Blood transfusions



What are the risks of blood transfusion?

Certain types of operations are associated with a greater chance of the patient requiring a blood transfusion, including coronary artery bypass surgery, prolonged orthopaediac (bone) operations (in particular spinal surgery such as surgery for scoliosis (curves in the spine), caesarean section in patients with placenta attachment difficulties called accretta and percretta, and surgery for multiple trauma.

There are a number of possible risks and adverse reactions to blood transfusions. Some of them are the result of interaction of the body's immune system with components of blood and some are due to factors including the transmission of infectious diseases. Having a blood transfusion is very safe because the Australian Red Cross Blood Service conducts routine screening tests on all donor blood. If you would like to know more, please visit the Australian Red Cross Blood Service website.


The risk of allergic reaction such as wheeze or a rash is about 1-3 per cent. It is treatable. The risk of anaphylaxis (a severe life-threatening allergic reaction) is one in 20,000 to one in 170,000.


Australia and New Zealand have among the safest blood supplies in the world with the risk of transmission of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV estimated at less than one in one million


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