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Blood transfusion

Understand what blood transfusion entails and the possible risks involved.

A blood transfusion can be life-saving, but is done only when necessary, after careful consideration. Clinical guidelines are in place, based on international practice, to help your doctor make an appropriate decision.

During a blood transfusion

Blood is dripped directly into a vein in your hand or arm, through a needle. It takes an average of 2 to 4 hours to transfuse one bag of blood.

Most people will not feel any different while receiving a blood transfusion.

Occasionally someone might develop a slight fever, chills or a rash. Such symptoms are usually due to a mild immune reaction or allergy, which can easily be treated with medication, or by giving the blood more slowly.

Find out more about the blood transfusion process.

Risks in a transfusion

Overall, blood transfusions are very safe. However, as with all procedures, there is a small risk involved.

Alternatives to blood transfusion

A blood transfusion should only be given when there are no other alternatives. Your doctor can advise you if there are safer options.

Condition Alternative treatment
Mild anaemia or mild to moderate amounts of blood loss Lost fluid can be replaced with a salt solution, while the body regenerates new red blood cells to replace what is lost. Iron supplements may also be taken to aid recovery.
Elective surgery Autologous blood transfusion — donating your blood for your own use.


You do not need to pay for the blood used in a transfusion. Blood is donated, not sold, and donors do not receive any payment.

A blood processing fee, however, is charged for the collection, processing and testing of every unit of blood to ensure it is safe for transfusion.

This fee is subsidised by the government as follows:

  • At the blood bank
    • For all blood processing costs.
  • Subsidy for patients at the hospital
    • Depending on your ward class.
    • Citizens receive a higher subsidy than Permanent Residents.

Blood safety

Measures are in place to ensure that the blood supplied for transfusions is as safe as possible. All donated blood collected is processed and tested at HSA's laboratories before it is used.


All donors are carefully screened before their blood is drawn.


Every unit of donated blood is managed using stringent, internationally-recognised quality standards. Donated blood is processed into different components:

  • Red blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Fresh frozen plasma

Infectious diseases testing

All blood units are put through the most sensitive tests for infectious diseases:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Selected components may also be tested for malaria or bacterial contamination

Blood group testing

Blood types are confirmed to ensure compatibility.

Antibody screening

Antibody screening is also performed to prevent abnormal antibodies from causing adverse reactions during a transfusion.

Proper storage

Our blood products are stored under carefully monitored and controlled temperatures and conditions to maintain an optimal state for transfusion.