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Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle Cell Anemia and Blood Transfusions

10/30/2007

Question:

I was wondering why do patients get blood transfusions and what are the side effects of blood transfusions?

Answer:

Patients get blood transfusions when they develop severe anemia that impairs the body's oxygen supply. In sickle cell disease, it is also given for specific complications like acute chest syndrome and stroke. Side effects are potential transfusion reactions some of which can be severe (although rare) and the transmission of infectious diseases like hepatitis. Infection complications are rare today in the US because of highly effective testing.

Patients who receive multiple transfusions can also develop iron overload (too much iron in the body) and alloantibodies (immune reaction which make it hard to find compatible blood).

For more information:

Go to the Sickle Cell Anemia health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Anthony D Villella, MD Anthony D Villella, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University