Blood Transfusions for MDS
- One notable side effect of MDS is anemia. This is a lack of red blood cells to nourish your tissue with oxygen. Anemia can cause fatigue and shortness of breath.
- To treat anemia, patients are sometimes given blood transfusions. During a blood transfusion healthy donor blood is infused into the MDS patient via an IV.
- Too many blood transfusions can cause unwanted side effects including a build up of iron in major organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas.
In order to treat the symptoms of anemia, patients with MDS often require blood transfusions.Read More
- Blood donated from healthy patients is infused via an IV (intravenous line).
- The process takes about 2-3 hours.
The vast majority of patients feel much better after a blood transfusion. Rarely, you may have shortness of breath or fever a few hours to even days after the transfusion. This not due to the “wrong type” of blood being given, but rather from interactions between the donor blood and your immune system. Symptoms after transfusions commonly ago away within hours and no treatment is usually necessary.
If you get many transfusions (more than 10-20 units), the iron in those blood transfusions can be deposited in your organs, potentially causing injury.
Patients receiving many transfusions should be aware of side effects, which include:
- A build up of iron
- This can happen in organs such as the heart, liver or pancreas
- This build up can cause heart failure, liver disease or diabetes
“So you really want to minimize the blood transfusions although it is a very important and necessary therapy option to help improve your symptoms,” Dr. Jun Choi, a hematologist-oncologist at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center.
The goal is to transfuse to help you feel better, and not to transfuse unnecessarily. If there is too much iron in your body, there are various techniques to limit iron build-up, including medications to neutralize iron. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to boost your red blood cells, reducing your need for transfusions.