Blood transfusion is the process of
transferring blood (or blood-based products) from one person into
the circulatory system of another.
Red blood cells are given to people who don’t
have enough red cells of their own to carry oxygen from their lungs
to where it is needed in the brain and tissues.
Some people will only need one blood
transfusion in their lifetime. Others, who have blood
disorders such as severe anaemia, are dependant on it. They
will have many transfusions in their lifetime.
The National Blood Service issues about 2
million red cell units a year to people in England and North Wales,
mostly for people with cancer and blood disorders.
Blood is a vital resource, but there is not an
endless supply of it. So it’s important that blood
components are used efficiently and only where needed. We
need to research transfusion medicine, to identify people who
benefit from blood transfusion and people who could be safely
treated without the need for transfusion.
At the MRC Clinical Trials Unit, we have
collaborated with the National Blood Service since 2001. We
have carried out a study of transfusion recipients to find out the
reasons for transfusion and have designed clinical trials to answer
the most important questions about the best use of blood.