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Health Problems Associated with Blood Transfusions

Blood Donors Making Donation In Hospital

CDC is working on a project with Georgia State University, University of Florida, and the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland to learn more about health issues that sometimes occur after people with sickle cell disease and thalassemia receive blood transfusions.

Hemoglobinopathies is the medical term for a group of blood disorders and diseases that affect red blood cells (RBCs). These disorders include both sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassemia.

RBC transfusions (a safe, common procedure in which blood is given through an intravenous (IV) line into a blood vessel) are an important part of medical care for many patients with hemoglobinopathies. RBC transfusions are often used

  • to treat people with severe forms of thalassemia who develop anemia, a condition in which the blood does not have enough healthy RBCs, and
  • to prevent health problems for people with SCD.

While these transfusions are very helpful for treating issues related to the conditions, they can lead to health problems, such as infections and iron overload, a buildup of excess iron in the body.

This project aims to identify ways to decrease health problems from blood transfusions and to show that reducing these problems improves overall health for patients. The project’s ultimate goal is to improve the quality and length of life for people with hemoglobinopathies.

Through this five-year project we hope to

  1. Improve healthcare providers’ knowledge about health problems from blood transfusions.
  2. Increase knowledge about health problems from blood transfusions among people with hemoglobinopathies and their families.
  3. Develop ways to use existing sources of data to identify people who have or have not had health problems from blood transfusions.

Learn more about Sickle Cell Disease

Provider Training Videos: Reducing Complications of Blood Transfusions in SCD

Learn more about Thalassemia

Watch an animated graphic about minority blood donations

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