After my blood transfusion, my face seems to have turned black and I generally look terrible. I am severely anaemic. What do you think I have?

(Last Updated: Jan 14, 2008)


Anemia is primarily a bone marrow condition, wherein the patient suffers from a lack or low count of erythrocytes, also commonly referred to as red blood cells. These cells are produced within our bone marrow and they are entrusted with the responsibility of transporting oxygen from our lungs to various other parts of the body. Our bone marrow requires a hormone known as erythropoietin, which is secreted by the kidneys, folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron, in order to produce an adequate amount of red blood cells. However, when the bone marrow is unable to produce the required amount of red blood cells it leads to anemia.

If due to some reason, these essential nutrients are not supplied to a person’s body, the bone marrow is unable to produce the required amount of red blood cells and even the ones which are produced could be abnormal. For example, if there is an iron deficiency, the cells could then be smaller than normal or on the other hand, if there is a deficiency of folic acid or vitamin B12 the cells may be larger than normal. This condition can be caused due to a large number of reasons such as; poor diet, excessive bleeding, pregnancy, kidney disease, alcoholism and cancer. Mild cases of anemia may not call for any kind of treatment, but if the condition is severe, then the patient may be given a blood transfusion in order to replace the red blood cells. Generally, blood transfusions do not have any side effects. However, an individual may have a reaction to a particular component in the transfused blood. These reactions may be experienced after or during the transfusion. Some people however may not experience any kind of side effect for days or even weeks after the transfusion.

Some of the common side effects are; fever, allergic reactions such as hives, nausea, chills, hemolytic reactions and infections such as HIV and hepatitis. Patients that have frequent blood transfusions may also develop a condition referred to as primary hemochromatosis. This condition (hemochromatosis) is brought about due to a gradual increase in the iron levels in the body, along with an abnormal accumulation of the mineral in various organs. Patients with primary hemochromatosis are also known to develop hyperpigmentation. This is basically a darkening of the skin. Consulting your physician in this situation would be the most prudent thing to do, as he or she could give you the right kind of guidance.

answered by G M

Anaemia Health Advice

How long is it since you underwent the transfusion? Are you still anemic? Transfer of blood or related substances from a donor to the circulatory system of an acceptor is termed as blood transfusion. There are associated risks of blood transfusion. The most commonly seen side effect is the febrile non-hemolytic transfusion reaction. This is accompanied by a short term fever with no side effect. Headache, dyspnea, low blood pressure, chills, backache, tachycardia, cyanosis and chest pain are the hemolytic reactions. Bacterial infection and sepsis is common during transfusions. Viral infections are also spread through blood transfusions, thereby increasing the risk of hepatitis C or HIV. . But, nucleic acid testing (NAT) is an effective method to reduce the risk of viral infections. Respiratory problems, namely transfusion - associated acute lung injury is common. This is seen along with low blood pressure, fever and non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema. It is a life threatening condition. Iron overload, anaphylactic reactions, acute hemolytic reactions and graft versus host disease are the other associated risks. Iron overload or hemochromatosis is the result of acquiring excessive iron through various ways, out of which, blood transfusion is one of them. Grey to olive colored skin is common. Refer to your general physician for further guidance.

answered by Dr C


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