We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Different Types of Transfusion Therapy?

By Nicole Etolen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Transfusion therapy is used to replenish a low supply of one or more blood constituents within the body. The two main types of transfusion therapy are those that transfer whole blood and those that transfer just one element of the blood. These could include red blood cells, platelets or plasma. The second type of transfusion therapy is more common, because many patients only require an infusion of one part of the blood to resolve their medical issues.

Blood is made up of several different constituents, each with a vital function. Red blood cells deliver oxygen to all the organs and tissue in the body. Platelets prevent people from bleeding out due to minor injuries; they rush to damaged areas to form clots. Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood, and it performs many functions, including maintaining adequate blood volume, transporting nutrients, and balancing electrolytes. The type of transfusion therapy given depends on the needs of recipients.

Whole blood transfusions were once the only transfusion treatment options available, until scientists developed a technique to isolate individual components in the blood. Now, they are relatively uncommon, as transfusion therapy that transfers only one element of the blood at a time is less likely to cause a reaction. Whole blood transfusions are still used in cases of massive blood loss resulting from accidents or other traumas.

Red blood cell transfusion therapy is often used in patients suffering from a low red blood cell count due to medical conditions, like anemia, or because of certain treatments, such as chemotherapy. Platelet therapy is used when uncontrollable bleeding occurs, or in patients with conditions that cause low platelet counts, such as leukemia. Plasma therapy can be used to increase clotting factors as well as to help restore blood volume.

During transfusion therapy, a needle is used to insert an intravenous (IV) line into one of the recipient’s blood vessels. The IV line is attached to a bag containing the whole blood or blood component required. The fluid slowly drips through the IV line and into the veins of the recipient. The entire process takes between one and four hours, during which time the recipient is carefully monitored for signs of a reaction.

While receiving blood is usually safe, some patients have a “transfusion reaction,” which can include symptoms such as headaches, fevers, muscle aches, and itchiness or rash at the site of the IV injection. Reactions are typically mild, but in some cases they can become life threatening. During transfusion therapy, a nurse monitors the vital signs of the recipient very closely, usually at 15-minute intervals. Reactions are less common in those receiving their own blood, so surgeons often recommend donating blood prior to a risky surgery, which can be stored for later use should the need arise.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.