Advice following a blood tranfusion

This page has information for patients who have had a blood transfusion. 

Most blood transfusions take place without problems but having a blood transfusion carries with it a very small risk of developing 
side effects. These may develop within several hours, or in some cases may happen days or weeks later.

These side effects are often mild, but it is still important to report any unusual or unexpected symptoms to a doctor or nurse (or midwife if your transfusion was related to pregnancy/childbirth).

Please contact the hospital for advice if you experience any of the following after having a blood transfusion:

  • A high temperature - feeling feverish, hot, and clammy.
  • Shivering or ‘cold chills’.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Passing blood in your urine.
  • Passing much less, or very dark, urine.
  • Itchy skin rash.
  • Pain in the lower back (loin pain).
  • Unexpected or unexplained bruising.
  • Jaundice (yellow colour of the white of your eyes or your skin).

When contacting the hospital for advice, please inform the hospital staff that you have recently had a blood transfusion.

On discharge the staff will explain to you how to obtain assistance in the event of a problem (both 'in hours' and 'out of hours'), and will give you a written copy of this information in a leaflet and:

  • The ward/departments daytime, and night time/weekend contact phone numbers.
  • The date and time of last transfusion.

If you are unable to make contact with the hospital where you had your transfusion, then please contact your GP as soon as possible.

In the rare event of an emergency (life threatening problems, for example difficulty with breathing), call 999 for an ambulance and bring your leaflet into hospital with you.

If you would like further information or advice about this, or other aspects of blood transfusion, please discuss this with your hospital doctor, nurse or midwife.


Acknowledgements: The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Taunton & Somerset Hospital NHS Trust)

Information contained in this leaflet has been produced in collaboration with the NHSBT Better Blood Transfusion Team.

© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published January 2024. Review due January 2027. NBT002585