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Information for patients who have been discharged within 24 hours of a blood transfusion

Patient information A-Z

Why have you been given this information?

You have been given this information because you have received a blood transfusion within the last 24 hours. This leaflet provides you with important information about the signs and symptoms of a possible transfusion reaction and how to get help should you need it.

Most blood transfusions take place without problems but having a blood transfusion carries with it a very small risk of developing side effects and it is important that you are aware of the signs and symptoms so you can seek appropriate assessment and treatment.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever (a high temperature – feeling hot and clammy or shivering and experiencing chills)
  • Muscle aches
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Mouth or throat tingling or swelling
  • Passing blood in your urine; or passing much less, or very dark urine
  • Acute bleeding from mouth, rectum, bladder or wounds
  • Yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes
  • Pain in your lower back (loin pain)

When might these signs and symptoms develop?

Signs and symptoms may develop within several hours, or in some cases may happen a few days or weeks later.

What action should you take?

Please contact your GP or NHS 111 if you experience any of the symptoms. If in the rare event you experience any urgent life-threatening symptoms e.g. difficulty breathing or chest pain, call 999. Wherever possible it is important that you inform the health care professional or emergency services that you have recently had a blood transfusion, and that you are contacting them because of the advice given in this leaflet.

Information for patients who regularly attend the hospital for blood transfusions

If you regularly attend hospital for blood transfusions you may only be given this information once. However the information is relevant to all the transfusions you receive and should you experience any of the signs and symptoms described in between your appointments please contact the team looking after you or your GP urgently and ensure you discuss these with them., Do not wait until your next appointment to do this. For any life-threatening signs or symptoms you should always dial 999.

To contact the team looking after you call Addenbrooke’s switchboard on 01223 245151 and ask for the relevant department. Please note that some departments may not operate in the evening, overnight, at weekends or on public holidays. Should you have any problems contacting a team member, call 111, your GP or in an emergency dial 999.

Information about being a blood donor yourself

Unfortunately, now you have received a blood transfusion you can no longer donate blood yourself. People who have received a transfusion since 1980 are now excluded from giving blood as a precautionary measure against the possible risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).

How can you find out more information?

If you would like further non urgent information or advice about this, or any other aspects of your blood transfusion, please discuss this with your hospital doctor or transfusion practitioner before you go home or with your GP once you have been discharged.

If you receive transfusions regularly and want more information, please ask your hospital doctor or your nurse specialist.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151