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What is a blood infusion?

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Quick Answer

A blood transfusion is a common, lifesaving medical procedure where a person receives blood from donations through intravenous means, according to Mayo Clinic. In some cases, the blood comes from the patient who donates it before a surgical procedure.

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Full Answer

A patient may receive a blood transfusion for a number of reasons, including injury, surgery, disease or bleeding, explains Mayo Clinic. Blood has a number of components, such as white cells, red cells, platelets and plasma, but a patient may only receive the components that are most helpful. It is not common for a patient to get whole blood, which is blood that has all of the components.

Some of the specific reasons a person may require a blood transfusion include surgery or injury, cancer, gastrointestinal bleeding, infection or blood disorders, claims Mayo Clinic. If a person loses blood through surgery or injury, for instance, the chances of developing anemia is high, so blood with a high concentration of red blood cells helps treat the condition. Gastrointestinal bleeding may be life-threatening, so doctors often choose a transfusion as the treatment to save the life of a patient. For people with cancer, radiation and chemotherapy treatment may decrease the red and white blood cells as well as platelets, so a transfusion may help to counter this loss.

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