Blood transfusions are a safe and straightforward procedure, routinely performed by physicians with access to a well-stocked blood bank. But, what if they're out of the patient's blood type, or they need one specific person's blood? Maybe there is a donor available, but the recipient has a personal reason to not want their blood? Perhaps blood that was thought to be safe is transfused, but turns out to have some issue that was missed and the patient gets worse or even dies.
For reference, a patient can safely receive blood that contains the same proteins as their natural blood without it clotting. Type A blood contains antigen A while B has antigen B, type AB contains both while type O has neither. Rh antigens are produced by a separate gene that either produces the protein (positive) or doesn't (negative).
So someone with type A blood can't donate to a type B patient but either one could donate to an AB patient, while a type O donor's blood could be received by anyone. Someone Rh+ can take Rh- blood but not vice-versa. Type AB+ is thus known as "universal recipient" while type O- is referred to as "universal donor".
When seemingly every blood type mentioned is rare, see AB Negative. When the blood transfusion confers the donor's powers it's a Superhuman Transfusion. See Billy Needs an Organ for more discrete organ transplants. Personality Blood Types might suggest potential donors among the cast.
- Exaggerated in Blue Ramun — the protagonist is Jessie, a young healer from a tribe of people whose blood is imbued with magically curative properties. Every member of the tribe is trained as a doctor, and although the tribe members spend years learning traditional herbal medicine and modern surgical techniques, their blood is such an effective panacea that they incorporate it into practically all their treatments. Every plot boils down to a Blood Transfusion Plot because Jessie's blood is usually the only course of treatment that can reverse the effects of a deadly poison, or prevent a sickly child from succumbing to a hereditary blood disease, or stop a patient from perishing due to a magical fantasy illness that turns the body's living cells into inert sand, etc....
- Subverted in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders, when Joseph Joestar is brought back to life by a blood transfusion from Dio's corpse. At first, it seems that the attempt backfired and revived DIO in Joseph's body, but Jotaro's immediate threat of punching Joseph in the face revealed it as nothing more than a poorly thought-out prank.
- One Piece: As revealed in a flashback, Fisher Tiger, the original leader of the Sun Pirates, was lethally injured and in need of a blood transfusion, with the only available blood being that of a human's. Tiger rejected it, saying that he'd rather die than be saved by the blood of the people that have caused his species so much pain.
- At the end of the Fishman Island Arc, after the battle with Hody Jones, Luffy is in need of a blood transfusion, but none of the crew have a matching blood type. Further complicating matters is that it's illegal for Fishmen/Merfolk to give or accept human blood, despite Luffy having fought Hody to save the rulers of Fishman Island and the inhabitants. Jimbei steps up and gives a blood transfusion to Luffy, deflecting the illegality of the action by stating he's a pirate, and thus is already breaking the law.
- In the third episode of Sailor Moon R (Doom Tree arc), a friend of Makoto's is attacked by a Cardian, losing both his energy and a lot of blood. He is rushed to a hospital, and Makoto volunteers to donate since the hospital didn't have enough and she was a match. Despite being weakened from the donation, she insists on fighting the Cardian.
- Batman And Nightwing Bloodborne: The plot deals with Nightwing needing to give blood to Batman after the latter is infected with a virus. Since the antidote has to be given from a transfusion, Nightwing injects himself with the drug and gives blood to Batman. It proves to be successful and both men recover.
- She-Hulk received her powers after Jennifer Walters was shot and badly wounded and her cousin, Bruce Banner, was forced to give her an emergency transfusion on the spot to prevent her from bleeding to death.
- In a famous issue of Superman Lois Lane becomes Black Like Me for a day in the story "I Am Curious (Black)" and ended up giving a blood transfusion to a community leader who hated white people but needed O negative blood, and she was the closest person who had it. At first he was unwilling to receive it, but eventually came around and learned An Aesop.
- The Flash Sentry Chronicles: In the season 2 chapter "Into the Forest", Scootaloo is stung by a creature called a Scorpentine and poisoned. Due to her rare blood type there aren't any donors available, so Flash Sentry, Rainbow Dash, and two visiting Royal Knights, First Aid and Heather Bloom, hunt down the Scorpentine that stung Scootaloo and extract its venom for a cure. Though they get the venom it fails to cure Scootaloo since she has been poisoned for too long. Once Flash hears that the rare blood type Scootaloo has is Triple Z though, he remembers from when he fought Discord that Discord mentioned that is the same blood type Flash has, allowing him to act as a donor for a transfusion with Scootaloo. Not only does this save Scootaloo's life, but First Aid examines the blood and realizes that they are so similar that the only explanation is that Flash and Scootaloo are siblings.
- Friendship Is Magic: When Rarity was thirteen years old, her mother was in a horrible accident, and needed an emergency blood transfusion. Unfortunately, she had an extremely rare blood type, so Rarity's desperate father ran several ads in every news media that existed to find somebody who had the same blood type and was willing to give a blood transfusion. The only person who showed up to help was an old homeless man with the same kind of blood type, and the subsequent emergency transfusion between him and Rarity's mother saved her life. When Rarity, amazed that this man had so little but still helped a well-off family he didn't even know in their time of need, asked why he did it, he explained that it didn't matter who her mother was; she needed help, he had what she needed, and he was happy to donate some of his blood to her if it meant that her life could be saved. Rarity never saw the homeless man again, and never found out what his name was, but since then she's spent every Wednesday afternoon volunteering at the local soup kitchen as a way to honor his generosity and give back to her community.
- In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, when Tagg is critically injured by a glancing beam attack from a Guzzlord in the Ultra Ruin, upon getting teleported to the Ultra Ruins he ends up getting a blood transfusion from his counterpart from the AU, who has become the liaison between that universe's PEFE and the Ultra Megalopolis in the eight year interim between the AU and Entralink Arcs.
- Edge of Tomorrow: Rita warns Cage that if he gets injured he has to kill himself before he gets rescued because if he receives a blood transfusion he'll lose the ability to reset the day. The same happened to her and that's how she lost it.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Blue the Velociraptor has lost a lot of blood after being shot by a mercenary. Realizing that she won't survive without a transfusion, the heroes decide to extract blood from a sleeping Tyrannosaurus. Predictably, the large predator awakens halfway through the procedure and attacks the humans. Someone apparently asked a vet if this was possible.
- The Last Blood starring Andy Lau has a blood transfusion as a key plot point. When an important political leader visiting Singapore gets seriously injured in a terrorist attack and needs a blood transfusion, and there are only four people in Singapore - including the protagonist's girlfriend - with a matching blood type, the terrorists quickly go on a spree to have all of them killed. By the end of the movie, the girlfriend is the Sole Survivor when the protagonist blows up the terrorist leader.
- In the climax of Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa gets stabbed in the side and starts bleeding profusely after pulling the knife out. Max, who was stated to be a Type O Negative at the beginning of the film, gives her an emergency transfusion to save her life.
- The original ending of 28 Days Later had Jim offer to save Frank after the latter gets infected by draining all of both Frank and Jim's blood and injecting it into the other, so that Jim will become a zombie while Frank would become human again. This ending was thrown out once they realized the infeasibility of draining and replacing every drop of blood in the human body, down to the capillaries, especially since it was established in the film that a single drop of infected zombie blood landing in someone's eye can turn them into a zombie in less than a minute.
- Dracula features blood transfusions as an important plot point, making this trope at least Older Than Television. Lucy receives four transfusions, from her three suitors and Van Helsing, in an attempt to stave off her death from vampiric blood loss.note This co-mingling of blood foreshadows the men becoming True Companions, as well as a dramatic moment when Van Helsing explains that because Dracula continued to feed off of Lucy after the transfusions, he now possesses the strength of all four men.
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' short story "Blood Sacrifice", the actor Garrick Drury is injured and needs an urgent blood transfusion. There are two possible donors, the protagonist, and Drury's loyal dresser who's desperate to help but doesn't have compatible blood. Or did the samples get mixed up in the confusion? And if they have, what if the protagonist doesn't bother to mention it?
- Everworld: As April (a universal donor) tries to set up a blood transfusion (a never-before seen technique in the Dung Ages Everworld) to save one of Camelot's knights, she sarcastically claims that it will save his life but cause his willy to fall off. From their horrified expressions, she sees it wasn't a good idea. In the end, it only allowed him to walk around and be seen by the troops before the dragon came in.
- In All in the Family, Archie is hospitalized for a gall bladder operation and needs a blood donor, and the only match is his worst nightmare - a black female doctor from the West Indies. Following his usual dumb, bigoted arguments about mixing races, he's actually very grateful to her. A few seasons later, when Archie confronts a KKK group trying to burn a cross on Mike's front lawn, Archie proudly proclaims he has "black blood."
- In The A-Team episode "Black Day at Bad Rock", B.A. is badly hurt in a firefight. Unfortunately, he's got a rare blood type, and the team has to spring Murdock from the V.A., because he has the same blood type. B.A. says he doesn't want a blood transfusion from Murdock because it'll make him crazy, just like him. The others overrule him and have the transfusion done anyway, and B.A. does not go insane. He even admits later that the transfusion kept him alive.
- Babylon 5: Londo is poisoned by one of his jilted wives when he threatens to divorce them, and since he's an alien on a human-run station, they're short on his blood type. Shockingly, the one wife who wants to divorce him turns out to have the same blood type, and offers her blood (on the condition that he never be told about it, since neither of them would be able to stand the resulting sense of indebtedness. The Expanded Universe novels reveal that he eventually figured it out).
- In an episode of CSI, a young woman, who turns out to be the daughter of a powerful Columbian drug lord, is found dead, and the forensic report states that she has several blood types in her body. The head pathologists argue about whether or not it was a mistake, but when they identify that it came from two other donors, the CSIs piece together what happened. The daughter had been living with her aunt, the drug lord's sister, to keep her out of trouble, and sent her to college in "boring" Utah. When she and her roommate went to Las Vegas for some fun, the owner of a nightclub kicked her out because he didn't want trouble with her father; instead, he sent her to a warehouse used for smuggling drugs, where some low-level dealers wanted to give her some weed, but she inhaled a chemical used to cut cocaine instead. To keep her from overdosing, they tried to replace her contaminated blood with their own (referencing an urban legend where Keith Richards used blood transfusions after a binge to pass drug tests). After she died from the reaction of having three incompatible blood types in her, they dumped the body. At the very end, the drug lord orders the dealers to be shanked in prison, while the roommate, the club owner, and the drug lord's sister are all given a bullet in the head.
- Dark Angel:
- In a first season episode, Logan needs a blood transfusion but, on account of the third world state of the USA, the blood bank is short on his blood type. Fortunately, Max and the other X-5 transgenics turn out to all be type O- so that they can provide one another with easy blood and organ transplants.
- In season two, Logan is accidentally touched by Max and infected with the tailored virus designed to kill him and the enhanced antibodies from a transgenic's blood are needed to cure him. Unfortunately Max can't do it because she's the one carrying the virus, and Alec has been mistaken for his Serial Killer twin and arrested on his way to the hospital, so Max needs to sneak Joshua (a Beast Man) into the hospital posing as a corpse, to hide his canine facial features.
- Dexter: A flashback revealed that Dexter needed surgery when he was young after getting into an accident. The problem is that Dexter's blood type, AB negative, is rare. Harry manages to find someone with the same blood type who can donate. The donor is Dexter's biological father. This falls under Artistic Licence Biology since Dexter could've received a transfusion from any type of negative blood.note This would have made more sense if Dexter had O negative blood and the hospital was having a shortage, or if Dexter was missing a normal antigen outside of the AB RH system.
- One episode of Doogie Howser, M.D. features a very racist patient in desperate need of a blood donation for a procedure. Doogie is able to find a donor with the correct blood type - the hospital's black orderly - but the man is not made aware of who gave the blood until after the procedure is completed, when Doogie offers to bring him in to be thanked for the lifesaving contribution. The racist man's face is priceless.
- Emergency! has a variation. The blood needed for transfusion is from the only patient known to have survived a nasty monkey virus. He's flown in to Los Angeles on a plane in hopes his blood's antibodies can pull a very ill Johnny and Dr. Brackett through their own battles with the virus. It's probably similar to what we'd call monoclonal antibodies today, only without growing them in a lab.
- In the ER episode "The Good Fight", Carter and Lucy spend the entire episode running around the city trying to find an injured girl's father so that he can donate her rare blood type.
- In Firefly, Mal has to get blood from Wash after he's shot in "Out of Gas". It's a direct style transfusion, with a tube between the two men sending blood from one to the other.
- Downplayed in the Season 17 finale of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Mike Dodds is badly injured and is bleeding heavily, the hospital has a limited stock, and there's some concern that the additional supply coming from the blood bank won't make it in time. Carisi has a compatible blood type and offers to donate. However, it's not a central focus of the plot, but rather one fairly brief scene in the middle of a chaotic series of events.
- Lost: Boone is severely injured falling off a cliff and loses a lot of blood being carried back to the camp. Jack reveals he's a universal donor and hooks himself up to Boone to transfuse blood. This means he's unable to help Claire, who's just gone into labor, as neither of them can move. Sun eventually forces Jack to stop the procedure because he's risking giving too much of his own blood.
- In one episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye operates on a bigoted soldier who is worried about getting the "wrong color" blood. Hawkeye and Trapper darken his skin to make him think he's turning black.
- In another episode, "Post Op", the 4077's blood supply is running dangerously low despite repeated calls and almost everyone donating. In the end, several Turkish soldiers arrive to donate blood as thanks for the doctors caring for one of their wounded.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: In "Journey to Babel", Ambassador Sarek is suffering a severe heart condition and needs an emergency operation, which will require compatible blood; naturally, the only compatible donor is his son, Spock — although it's complicated by the fact that Spock's blood has human factors which will need to be filtered out, meaning he will have to give even more blood and increasing the risk factor to both patients. In the middle of all of this, Kirk is attacked and severely injured by an assassin, and with the Enterprise carrying a ferryload of diplomats, Spock feels his duty to the ship must come first — even when his anguished mother begs him to go through with it, which earns Spock a hard slap. In order to persuade him to go and save his father's life, Kirk has to get out of his hospital bed and pretend he's recovered enough to reassume command, with the intention of turning over to Scotty once Spock's back is turned — but before he can do so, the ship is attacked, meaning McCoy has to perform the procedure during a battle. Fortunately, despite everything, both Spock and Sarek pull through.
- In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, there is an injured Romulan who needs a transfusion, but the only compatible donor is Worf, who hates Romulans. Eventually, he's convinced to give up some of his blood, but by then, the Romulan has died.
- Even before Worf decides to do it he speaks with the Romulan, who tells him that he would rather die than accept the transfusion anyway.
- Victorious: In "Tori Gets Stuck," due to being the only other one with O-negative blood, Tori is roped into donating blood for Robbie's surgery (there's a toy car stuck in his lower intestine), and wants to get it over with so she can be the lead role in the school play. Jade, Tori's understudy, gets rid of the first pint of blood so Tori has to stay longer, and Robbie drops and splatters the second pint Tori donates. Tori makes it to the play, but can't perform due to all the blood loss making her dizzy. But instead of Jade, Mr. Sikowitz in drag steps into the role.
- There is a classic joke where a wealthy man needs a number of blood donation, and the only donor available is Scottish (or whoever fits the local stereotype). So the first time, the wealthy rewards his benefactor most generously (with a car or a house, for example), but after additional operations, the rewards become much smaller. That's Scottish blood for you.
- Wolf 359: When Eiffel's chronic bioweapon infection goes untreated for some time he starts bleeding internally and needs a transfusion to survive. Unfortunately, the station's supply of synthetic blood has spoiled and both Minkowski and Dr. Hilbert are type A- while he's type B-. Fortunately Lovelace turns out to have type O- after Hera talks her out of abandoning them.
- The Amazing World of Gumball has a variation in the episode "The Boss" where Mr. Robinson needs a stuffing transfusion (since he's a puppet). The only compatible donor is his son Rocky, but Mr. Robinson refuses to let him donate to him because he sees him as a deadbeat and an embarrassment, so Gumball and Darwin have to help him get an office job to make his father proud enough of him to let him donate his stuffing.
- Doc McStuffins has an allegory for blood donation in the episode "Selfless Snowman". Pickles, a plush rabbit, loses some of her stuffing and is in need of a donation. She has cotton-ball white stuffing, the same as Chilly. Doc teaches Chilly not to be scared of donating his stuffing.
- The Simpsons: In "Blood Feud", Mr. Burns is in need of a blood transfusion, but has a very rare blood type. It is discovered that Bart has the same type, and Homer convinces him to donate some in hopes that Burns will give them a big reward.
- X-Men: The Christmas Episode "Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas" deals with the Morlock Leech being seriously ill with the possibility of curing him by getting a blood transfusion from Wolverine because of his Healing Factor. However, Logan is reluctant because he tried it once in the past but it failed. Luckily, the transfusion with Leech is successful.