The Value of Blood Transfusion: A Patient’s Story

elaine 2Elaine Fagan first found out she had sickle cell disease in 1981 when she was five months pregnant. After being admitted to the hospital, she didn’t get to go back home until 2 months after giving birth.

As blood transfusions are part of the treatment plan for some patients suffering with sickle cell disease, Elaine has had many, many transfusions over the years.

Recently, Elaine told a member of UHN’s Red Blood Cell Disorders Program and Medical Surgical Day Unit that she used to be scared of transfusion but now she is coming to forum meetings and talking to patients about her positive experience at UHN.

While a blood transfusion may feel like it takes up most of the day, Elaine emphasizes that she immediately feels the positive effects of her transfusions.

She would often suffer from shortness of breath, leg pain and swelling – but after the transfusion they diminish over the next couple of days and by the third day are often completely gone.

“I used to walk to the elevator (at home). Now I run to the elevator,” says Elaine. “I do everything like a normal person. I feel like I have nothing to worry about.”

Elaine has expressed her gratitude to her clinicians and support workers for how great she’s been feeling since she had the blood transfusion and is thrilled with the positive change in her health.

“The doctors are trying their best to help me and give me treatment to tackle my disease so I have to try too because they are trying,” she says, emphasizing the role everyone plays, including the patient, clinician, nurses and laboratory medicine team, in delivering quality care to all our patients.

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