Complications following a Blood Transfusion

Blood transfusion is a life saving procedure in many instances and in other instances it is considered vital to manage a patents good health. Although there are several risks involved in receiving blood, possibilities are much less with modern day screening procedures and with newer techniques and knowhow of blood transfusions. While most of the complications that are mild and transient in its occurrence, certain other complications could be deadly. But, such fatal and serious consequences have become extremely rare in the present context and therefore had made the blood transfusion more or less a safe option.

Let us now see some of the possible blood transfusion related complications.

-Febrile reactions

Perhaps the most common of them all is the acute febrile reactions that are characterized by the manifestation of fever, chills and probably some localized erythema and itching. Febrile reactions are not associated with blood cell homolysis and therefore is not life threatening. At times, it may not require withdrawing the blood transfusion as well.

-ABO incompatibility reactions

This may be the most dangerous of all complications and is characterized by extensive itching, shortness of breath, heavy chest, dizziness and lightheadedness…etc and could quickly progress into a fatal outcome.

-Allergic reactions

Although not as common as a febrile reaction, allergic reactions can also manifest as an itch, development of hives as well as shortness of breath which can also be associated with the development of edema as well.

-Delayed hemolytic transfusion reactions

Delayed hemolytic reactions rarely become serious and usually manifest after 1 – 4 weeks from the transfusion. The hemolysis that takes place in this type of reaction is not extensive and the red cells which are getting destroyed will most likely to be the transfused red blood cells than the existing ones. Apart from a mild fever, the manifestations may be non-specific and therefore may not be readily distinguish from certain other illnesses.

-Volume overload

When several pints of blood has been transfused or else even a single transfusion is made in a patient with a compromised heart or having certain other medical illnesses, blood can attract more fluid into the vasculature and thereby overload the system. This can aggravate or give rise to a heart failure and could be detrimental to the patients life.


When transfusing blood or blood products there is a possibility of transmitting infective agents into the recipient and proper screening of the stored blood will minimize such manifestations to a large extent.

As you can see, there are several complications that can be seen during or following a blood transfusion and it is a procedure which requires great care from the time of preparing the blood and blood products to the completion of its transfusion in order to detect such complications early and to treat them appropriately.