Can you eat before a blood transfusion?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat before a blood transfusion?” with an in-depth analysis of how to prepare yourself before blood transfusion, the procedure and types of blood transfusion, and the purpose of doing blood transfusion. 

Can you eat before a blood transfusion?

Yes, you can eat before a blood transfusion. In fact, taking an iron-rich diet is highly beneficial before the blood transfusion procedure. 

What is a blood transfusion?

A blood transfusion is a procedure that adds blood to your body following an injury or illness using an IV. You may be given only a part of the blood, for instance, plasma, platelets or red blood cells. The blood can be from another person or it may be your own blood stored for later use.

Depending on the amount of blood your body requires, the process can take almost 1 to 4 hours.

Purpose of blood transfusion

You may need a blood transfusion if: 

  • You have experienced a serious injury or undergone major surgery and you need to restore wasted blood
  • You have experienced bleeding in your digestive system due to an ulcer or any other health condition
  • You are suffering from an illness, for instance, kidney disease or leukaemia that causes a lack of healthy blood
  • You have undergone chemotherapy or radiation 
  • You have critical liver disease or a blood disorder 

How to prepare yourself for blood transfusion?

  • Your doctor will guide you if you can eat or drink before the procedure of blood transfusion. He will tell you whether you can drive yourself home. 
  • Inform your doctor if you ever had a swelling, fever, hives or itching during the procedure. The doctor may give you medicines to help counteract any allergic response.
  • You will be asked for a sample of your blood to check whether the blood used in the transfusion is appropriate for you. Otherwise, you may get sick as your immune system will try to destroy the unsuitable blood. 
  • The process of blood transfusion may persist for 1 to 4 hours. Your doctor may tell you what you can bring into the transfusion room. You may be allowed to drink, eat, watch TV or read. You may also be capable of using the toilet with assistance.

The procedure of blood transfusion

During a blood transfusion: 

  • An intravenous line will be inserted into a large vein, usually in your arm. 
  • The bag containing blood will hang alongside your bed. 
  • Tubes will secure the blood bag to the Intravenous line.
  • To allow the blood to enter your IV, the doctor will open a clamp. 
  • The process will start slowly in order to look for any signs of an allergic reaction. Even a tiny amount of blood from a donor can provoke a reaction. The doctor will wait for at least 15 minutes after the transfusion begins.
  • The doctor will keep on checking any important signs at least once every hour. 
  • Inform the doctor if you have symptoms of a reaction like nausea, pain, or itching so that they suspend the transfusion quickly.

Types of blood transfusions

There are different types of blood transfusions that are performed depending on your condition: 

  • A red blood cell transfusion is done in case of iron deficiency or anaemia.
  • A platelet transfusion is done in case your body lacks them, possibly because of cancer. Platelets help to prevent bleeding. 
  • A plasma transfusion is done in case of liver disease or severe bleeding. Plasma helps to replace the proteins in your blood that are required for clotting.

Why do you need a good amount of iron prior to surgery?

Your body requires iron to build more red blood cells. Good amounts of red blood cells before the procedure will enable you to participate in a blood conservation program i.e., donation of your own blood.

In addition, higher levels of red blood cells will provide more oxygen to the body cells, helping you to improve faster after your surgery.

It also produces a sufficient amount of red blood cells, in case there is blood loss during or post-surgery.

What foods should you eat before the blood transfusion?

Iron-rich foods are recommended before the procedure of blood transfusion. 

Iron can be obtained from numerous foods. There are two different kinds of iron in foods that are heme and non-heme irons.

Heme iron is present in foods including beef, organ meats (kidney, heart, liver), lamb, poultry (dark meat), pork, seafood and fish. It is readily absorbed by the body.

Non-Heme iron is present in foods including fortified or whole-grain cereals, dried fruits (apricots, raisins), vegetables (lentils, beans, dried peas), grains and nuts, pasta and bread. This type of iron is not readily absorbed.

Conclusion

In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat before a blood transfusion?” with an in-depth analysis of how to prepare yourself before blood transfusion, the procedure and types of blood transfusion, and the purpose of doing blood transfusion. 

References

https://www.drugs.com/cg/blood-transfusion.html
https://www.mountsinai.on.ca/care/blood-transfusions/blood-transfusion-and-conservation-diet-and-iron
https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/blood-transfusion-what-to-know
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318984#types
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blood-transfusion/

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.