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What can I expect during a blood transfusion?

You can expect your blood transfusions to be done in a hospital or in a doctor’s clinic. A nurse inserts a needle into your arm. This needle is attached to a narrow tube that is connected to a bag of blood. The blood flows along the tube and into your bloodstream. You might feel a pinch when the needle pricks you. During the transfusion, the needle can be uncomfortable, but it should not be painful.

A blood transfusion usually just takes a short time. How long it takes depends on how much blood you need. Most times you can sit, eat, drink and use the bathroom when you’re having a transfusion. The nurses and doctors will keep an eye on you for a short time after your transfusion to make sure you’re okay and not having any problems.

You might feel sore for a few days where the needle pricked you.

A blood transfusion is given through an IV (intravenous) line—a thin tube placed in a vein. For your transfusion, the staff will:

  • Check your name and other hospital identification before starting.
  • Check your temperature, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure before, during and after.
  • Ask how you are feeling, including if you have chills, itching, pain or other problems.
  • Watch you closely for the first 15 minutes of the transfusion and then check on you often.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.