People receive blood transfusions for many reasons, including surgery, injury, bleeding and disease. Blood has several components, including red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. You'll receive a transfusion that provides the part or parts of blood that will be most helpful for you. Whole blood means the blood contains all its parts. But it is not common to use whole blood for a transfusion.

Researchers are working on ways to develop an artificial blood. So far, no good replacement for human blood is available.

Surgery, injury or anemia

If you lose blood due to surgery or injury, you may experience anemia. You may require a transfusion of packed red blood cells, which means the blood you receive contains a concentration of mostly red blood cells. This type of transfusion is also done for people who have anemia related to other conditions.

Gastrointestinal bleeding

Bleeding from ulcers, enlarged veins (varices) or other conditions of the digestive tract can be life-threatening. Blood transfusions can be lifesaving.


Cancer may decrease your body's production of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets by impacting the organs that influence blood count, such as the kidneys, bone marrow and the spleen. Radiation and chemotherapy drugs also can decrease components of the blood. Blood transfusions may be used to counter such effects.

Other illness

Some illnesses cause your body to make too few platelets or clotting factors. You may need transfusions of just those blood components to make up for low levels.

Infection, liver failure or severe burns

If you experience an infection, liver failure or severe burns, you may need a transfusion of plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of blood.

Blood disorders

People with blood diseases may receive transfusions of red blood cells, platelets or clotting factors.

Severe liver malfunction

If you have severe liver problems, you may receive a transfusion of albumin, a blood protein.

April 01, 2015