Patients often fear blood transfusion. They know that others have gotten AIDS from bank blood. Doctors are aware of this problem too, and have given a lot of attention to minimizing the need for and the risk of transfusion during and after surgery. Blood.JPG (29409 bytes)

One way to decrease the chance of needing someone else’s blood after surgery is to collect and store some of your own blood prior to surgery. If you can plan your surgery in advance this is a good strategy. Please understand that some patients may be unable to give blood, that for those who can, time must elapse between donations, and that any blood that is not used during or after surgery will be discarded. If you are interested in storing your own blood, discuss this with your surgeon well in advance of surgery.

Sometimes patients ask family and friends to donate for them. This can be arranged ahead of time, but not on short notice. Studies have shown that blood from friends and family is not more safe than bank blood.

Bank blood is now tested for AIDS and hepatitis viruses. The tests employed are very good, but not perfect. Risks of infection are much decreased and very small, but not absent.

Your anesthesiologist and surgeon share the responsibility for a decision about transfusion during surgery. They are aware of risks of infection. They will give you blood only if they believe the risk of witholding blood is far greater than the risk of giving it.

Patients are often aware that other solutions may be used in place of blood. Other solutions are useful to replace blood until the number of red blood cells is too few. Only red blood cells can carry oxygen. When red blood cells are to few, the body begins to be starved for oxygen, and red blood cells must be transfused.