Blood Transfusion Risks and Medical ID Jewelry

Blood transfusions are common, potentially life-saving medical treatments in which a patient receives blood through an IV, typically over the course of one to four hours. In the US, the National Institutes of Health estimate that nearly 5 million Americans receive blood transfusions annually.


The majority of people can receive blood transfusions safely and effectively. However, there are risks associated with blood transfusions, some of which are so serious that people need to wear blood transfusion medical alert jewelry.

Here are some known risks of blood transfusions:

  • Allergic reactions, ranging from mild to severe
  • Disease exposure from infectious diseases that can survive in donor blood, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD)
  • Fever
  • Iron Overload
  • Lung Injury
  • Acute Immune Hemolytic Reaction
  • Delayed Hemolytic Reaction
  • Graft-Versus-Host Disease

In addition to these known risks, blood transfusions can carry specific risks for immune-compromised patients and people with conditions such as Selective IgA Deficiency. Many people request medical ID jewelry engraved with “IGA-DEPLETED BLOOD ONLY” and “IRRADIATED BLOOD ONLY,” among other transfusion-related instructions. This is because in a controlled setting they may be able to communicate those specific needs, but in the event of a trauma, a transfusion may need to be done in an emergency setting, making having this information on your person at all times truly imperative.


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