Why Patient Blood Management or Blood Conservation?

See patient brochure, "You may need a blood transfusion: Risks and benefits of transfusions".

Although blood is the safest it has ever been and has many benefits, blood products are not without risk.

What does research say about the risks of transfusions?

  • Researchers are constantly looking for better tests to lower the risks from transfusion.
  • The numbers below are from studies done in Canada from 1999-2000. The larger the number in the column on the right side (your chances), the lower the risk that a transfusion will cause the problem listed on the left side.



Your chances

HIV-1 (AIDS virus)*

1 in 10,000,000

Hepatitis C*

1 in 3,000,000

Hepatitis B*

1 in 72,000


1 in 1,100,000


1 in 100

Hives, itchiness

1 in 300

Fluid overload

1 in 100

Acute hemolytic reaction

1 in 25,000

*(Source: Chiavetta, J., Escobar, M., Newman, A., He, Y., Driezen, P, Deeks, S., Hone, D., O’Brien, S., & Sher, G. (2003). Incidence and estimated rates of residual risk for HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis B and human T-cell lymphotropic viruses in blood donors in Canada, 1990-2000. CMAJ, 169(8), 767-773.)
(Other sources may vary from the Canadian sources quoted above)


  •  The information below may help you compare the risk of transfusion with the risk of dying in other situations  : 

Cause of Death

Your chances

Motor vehicle accident, all ages

1 in 10,000

Falling by accident

1 in 12,400


1 in 27,500


1 in 92,000


1 in 97,800

Airplane Crash

1 in 471,800

Being struck by lightening

1 in 5,000,000

(Source: Canadian Actuarial Tables)



Legal disclaimer: This site has been developed for informational and educational purposes only. The site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment

© 2018. Ontario Transfusion Coordinators. All rights reserved.