a relative is in end of life care for terminal cancer in the hospital and received a blood transfusion today. I was just wondering why?

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I couldn’t really get an understandable answer from the nurse. Why would you need a blood transfusion, what would it do when the patient is likely to die in the next few days? Thanks.

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9 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Prolong. Death would have come sooner without the transfusion.

Yeah. The answer is that simple.

Why prolong? …well, more complicated question.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Symptomatic relief, if he’s breathless because his haemoglobin is only 20, giving him blood will make him FEEL better. End of life care is all about managing symptoms and not prolonging life.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The relative or their healthcare proxy must not have signed a DNR. A doctor must have prescribed the transfusion.

When my grandpa was dying in the hospital, they didn’t even give him IV fluids because it would only prolong the inevitable. A blood transfusion for a dying patient is very strange.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Depends on how close to the end they are. Usually the Medical Power of Attorney has the final say how long or how much they allow the hospital to do.

My wife recently had to decide for her father. They had a DNR (do not resuscitate) for him, so the hospital put him in hospice and the asked what was allowed as they had him on antibiotics to help. She ended the antibiotics after the first night, because it was mostly to get her brother in town so he could say his goodbyes.

So maybe the POA or the rest of the family is not ready to say goodbye yet.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Comfort care. If his blood oxygen is low he might have been feeling even worse anxiety than expected. Partial suffocation is truly awful.

Anonymous 0 Comments

For the same reason someone can be given radiation for palliative care—it isn’t to cure the disease (past that stage generally) but might shrink the tumor a bit to alleviate pain. The person may feel breathless, or so tired they cannot think/talk/walk, so a transfusion is a low intervention way to improve the quality of their last days, should that be what they desire.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Depends on the cancer and the treatment regimen, but transfusions are common in cancer treatment. For example, when treating blood cancers a transfusion is necessary because the disease and treatment damages the patient’s blood to a degree that it can hinder the body’s functions.

In this case, it sounds like blood is not being produced efficiently due to the cancer, and a transfusion can help relieve symptoms and help deliver medicine to keep them comfortable.

Anonymous 0 Comments

In hospice people is only given treatment for painful symptoms. And things like low blood pressure, low blood count, etc. can cause quite a lot of pain. For example shortness of breath, the feeling of drowning, strong headaches, etc. There may even be issues with administering pain killers like morphine due to low blood pressure. So blood transfusions are permitted to reduce the pain in the last days of someones life. This way they can die of things that is far less painful.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not to save them or prolong their life, but to make them suffer less from the process of dying.

Yes, they will die either way, but that bag of blood will make the dying less painful.