Woman receiving transfusion

Some Common Life-Saving Treatments That Require A Blood Transfusion

March 23, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Each year, more than 5 million people require blood transfusions due to illness, surgery or serious injury. There is no manufactured alternative to human blood so the blood collected from donors is the only supply available to patients in need, which is why the work being done at Stanford Blood Center (SBC) is so important.

Blood is transfused either as whole blood or, more often, individual parts like plasma or platelets. Here are some of the most common reasons why you or someone you know could require a blood transfusion.

Red Blood Cells

You may need a transfusion of red blood cells if you’ve lost a lot of blood due to injury or surgery or suffer from severe anemia.

Anemia is the most common blood disorder and occurs when you do not have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, a protein that attaches to oxygen and carries it to tissues throughout the body. This oxygen is necessary for organs and tissue to survive.


Platelets are the part of the blood that helps stop bleeding. When your own body stops making enough of its own platelets, transfusions may be needed to stay healthy. One such disorder requiring platelet transfusions is hemophilia. Hemophilia is a rare, inherited disorder in which blood does not clot properly so in the case of injury or damage excessive bleeding, both external and internal, may occur. There is no cure but regular platelet transfusions can help.

A more common reason for platelet transfusions is for patients suffering from blood cancers or cancers that start in the bone marrow, such as leukemia, which often require platelet transfusions due to low blood counts.


Plasma transfusion may be needed if you suffer severe burns because heat damage disrupts the exchange of plasma at the injury site, resulting in fluid loss. Plasma, the liquid component of the blood that helps blood clot, is mostly water but also contains proteins, clotting factors, vitamins and more.

A blood transfusion can save your life or that of someone you love but only if the needed blood products are on the shelf and available. For that reason, Stanford Blood Center asks that you make an appointment to donate blood today. Please visit sbcdonor.org.