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Understanding Sickle Cell Disease and Blood Transfusions

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that is caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin gene. People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that are shaped like crescent moons, which can block blood flow and cause pain, organ damage, and other serious complications.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a permanent treatment, there really isn’t one. Some have used stem cells to cure their SCD, but with the risks involved, it is rarely ever done. However, this doesn’t mean there’s no way to manage sickle cell disease! One common treatment for SCD is blood transfusion.

Today, let’s delve deeper into understanding what blood transfusions are, how blood transfusions can help treat SCD, and more.

What Is Blood Transfusion?

Blood transfusion is the process of transferring blood from one person to another. This can be done for a variety of reasons, including to replace blood loss during surgery, to treat a blood disorder, or to do other things.

There are two types of blood transfusions: whole blood transfusions and component transfusions. Whole blood transfusions involve transfusing all of the blood components, while component transfusions involve only transfusing certain blood components, such as red blood cells, plasma, or platelets.

How Does Blood Transfusion Help Treat Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. As mentioned already, people with sickle cell disease have abnormal hemoglobin, which causes the red blood cells to become sickle-shaped and hard. Now, there’s no fixing these cells, but one thing that can be done is to replace these abnormal cells with healthy ones!

As such, a blood transfusion can help treat sickle cell disease by providing healthy red blood cells to carry out the tasks that the patient’s red blood cells were intended to do. This can help to improve the patient’s oxygen-carrying capacity and relieve some of the symptoms of the disease. This helps to alleviate symptoms of SCD and even avoids potential problems like stroke.

What Can I Expect When Donating Blood?

While rare and manageable, there are some risks to be wary of when treating SCD with blood transfusions.

The most common complication is iron overload, which can occur when patients receive frequent transfusions. This can lead to organ damage and other health problems but can be treated with chelation therapy. There is also a small risk of transfusion-related acute lung injury, and patients with sickle cell disease are also at increased risk for developing antibodies to foreign blood, which can make future transfusions more difficult. Apart from that, other risks are still present, such as nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and the like. Again, these symptoms are manageable, but a patient must be aware of these symptoms before undergoing treatment.

For more serious consequences, delayed hemolytic transfusion reactions can occur. This happens when the person’s body starts making antibodies in response to the blood received through transfusion. Unfortunately, this problem has led to over 4.2% of deaths caused by SCD.


While there are risks, the rewards far outweigh them. A person living with SCD runs into many health challenges, many of which can be addressed with blood transfusions. So, for those dealing with SCD, consider undergoing blood transfusions. Of course, always consult with the doctor first. And, for those that are looking to donate blood, be sure to reach out to plasma-donation companies and understand what you can expect when donating blood! Blood is always in demand, and your blood could be what saves someone else’s life.

thplasma is a plasma-donation company that works hard to give donors and employees the best genuine care possible. If you are looking for the nearest plasma donation center in Fair Lawn, reach out to us today!