Consumer Information – Blood & or Blood Products

Welcome to the Patient Information page on Blood Product Transfusion and Patient Blood Management.

Getting your blood fit for surgery (Patient Blood Management)

blood-clipart Ask your GP or Surgeon to check your haemoglobin levels
blood-clipart Do these 6 months before surgery
blood-clipart If you are having a colonoscopy, ask your GP to check your iron levels when they make the referral for colonoscopy
blood-clipart If you have low iron levels your GP or surgeon can treat this before your surgery

The best blood for you is your own. Your blood is a valuable resource that we need to conserve. There are things we need to do to manage your blood appropriately before surgery. One of these is to boost your blood and address health conditions such as anaemia or iron deficiency. This may help you avoid a blood transfusion and the associated risk of complications. It can also help you recover faster and have a shorter stay in hospital.

Anaemia means that the level of red blood cells or the level of haemoglobin is lower than normal. This deprives the body of adequate oxygen. Anaemia before surgery increases the risk of other problems occurring. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia. Iron deficiency may also affect your ability to respond to any blood loss.

Talk to your GP or specialist so they can check if you have anaemia or low levels of iron. This is done with a simple blood test. It means these conditions can be addressed before your surgery. Ideally, this preparation should start 6 months before your surgery. If this can’t happen, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

The fact sheet Fit for Surgery gives you some tips on what to discuss with your doctor. Fit for Surgery Fit for Life gives you some facts on iron and has a page for you to record any iron management. This is useful for you and your carer to bring to the clinic before your operation.


Iron is important to help make healthy red blood cells. Without healthy red blood cells your body cannot get enough oxygen. Iron is normally absorbed from your diet. If you don’t have enough iron, iron replacement can be given in two ways.

It can be taken as a tablet by mouth, or given intravenously, via a needle into your vein. Your doctor will decide which is the best method for you.

If you need to take iron tablets it is important to take them correctly. A guide to taking iron tablets gives you the right advice on how to do this and how to manage any side effects.

If you require an iron infusion to rapidly replace iron, the fact sheet Intravenous (IV) iron infusions gives you information about this.

blood-clipart  You can always ask your Doctor for more information

Blood and Blood Product Transfusion

A blood transfusion is when blood or parts of blood are transferred from one person (a donor) and given to you. Parts of blood that can be transfused are red cells, plasma or platelets. The blood is transferred through a tube inserted with a needle into one of your veins. Blood is a very important resource that is donated freely by people in the community. The Health Service has a responsibility to ensure that all blood and blood products are used in a safe and appropriate way.

One of our obligations is to make sure that you are well informed about blood product transfusion and other treatment options. You will be asked to sign a consent form before you can be given any blood or blood products. It is important that you have the right information to help you make the right decisions about your care.

Blood transfusions may be lifesaving but they do carry a small amount of risk. The following publications provide helpful information for you and your family.

My guide to blood transfusions’ explains how you may reduce the chance of needing a transfusion, the risks, and the signs of a blood product transfusion reaction.

A general guide to blood transfusion’ provides you with information on blood product transfusion.

This information is also useful for your families and carers. It is available here in 15 languages other than English, under the Information For Patients section.

blood-clipart  If you have questions that are not answered by this information, you can always ask your Doctor

We have a policy on getting your consent for any blood product transfusion. There are also strict procedures we must follow to make sure that you receive the correct blood in a safe way. You can access these policies by contacting our Oncology Unit.


If your child needs a blood product transfusion, theChildren receiving a blood transfusion: A Parents’ Guide offers good information. Asking the right questions can help you make informed decisions about your child’s care.

There is also information for your children to read. This may help your child feel less anxious about having a blood transfusion.

Amazing You: Billy Blood Drop  billy-blood-drop
Voyages on the Micro Sub Discovery  micro-sub-discovery
My First Transfusion – Alice’s Story  alice

Delayed reaction to transfusion

After receiving a blood or blood product transfusion, it is possible to have a delayed reaction. This reaction can occur between 24 hours and several days after the transfusion. You may have already gone home from hospital.

The ‘Delayed reactions after transfusion of blood and blood products‘ information sheet gives you advice on the symptoms of a reaction and what you need to do.

blood-clipart  If you think you are having a delayed reaction call your Doctor


You may have a condition that needs treatment with immunoglobulin. Immunoglobulins are antibodies found in plasma. They are made by the body’s immune system to fight infection and disease.

There are two ways you can receive immunoglobulin medication. You will need to discuss with your doctor which is the most suitable for you.

Intravenous (IV) by way of a needle into a vein OR

Subcutaneous (SC) where a needle is inserted under the skin. This method is for self-administration outside the hospital and is not suitable for everyone.

Further Information – If you would like to read more information about blood and blood product transfusion or patient blood management you can click on any of the following links.
NSW Blood Watch has an extensive resource list blood-watch-logo
Clinical Excellence Commission  – Resource list
The National Blood Authority has links to the latest information for patients nat-blood-authority-logo
National Blood Authority/Patients
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service has many fact sheets for donors and patients aus-red-cross-blood-logo
Transfusion fact sheets | Australian Red Cross Blood Service
Australian & New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion: Guidelines and Standards for Administration of Blood and Blood Products anz-sbt-logo
Australian & NZ Society of Blood Transfusion