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Blood Transfusion Reactions: Learning about blood transfusion reactions

Blood Transfusions

Learning about blood transfusion reactions

Transfusion reactions are rare. If they do happen, they most often happen during your blood or blood product transfusion or within 6 hours of your transfusion. In some rare cases, a transfusion reaction can happen 2 to 3 weeks after a transfusion.

Watch for symptoms that might be showing a transfusion reaction. If you begin to feel unwell, like having a fever, chills, muscle pain, or trouble breathing, you may be having a transfusion reaction.

You can have a transfusion reaction even if you have had transfusions in the past without a reaction.

What should I watch for?What should I do?
  • shortness of breath
  • trouble breathing
  • swelling in your lips or tongue
  • wheezing in your chest

Call 911 and tell them you recently had a blood transfusion.

  • feeling very unwell
  • muscle pain
  • yellow skin
  • dark urine (pee)

See your doctor right away or go to the nearest urgent care centre or emergency department.

  • chills
  • fever

Take your temperature and call Health Link at 811.

  • rash, hives, or itchy skin

Call Health Link at 811.

If you had any of these symptoms after your transfusion, tell your healthcare provider about it the next time you have a transfusion.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for any more blood tests or transfusions you may need. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or Health Link at 811 if you are having problems. If your doctor did not give you any follow-up instructions, call them 1 to 3 days after your transfusion to see if you need more tests.

To see this information online and learn more, visit

Related to Blood Transfusion Reactions

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: September 23, 2021

Author: Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) Transfusion Medicine, Subsidiary of Alberta Health Services

Care instructions may be adapted by your healthcare provider. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, talk with your doctor or appropriate healthcare provider.