Questions and Answers

What are the risks associated with a blood transfusion?

  • Transmission of viral or bacterial infection
  • Incompatibility or allergic reaction
  • Altered immunity and possible lesser defense against infections and cancer

How can I avoid or reduce the chances of needing a blood transfusion during my surgery?

  • Obtain treatment of the preexisting anemia
  • Save and conserve your own blood
  • Utilize anesthesia and surgical modalities to reduce blood loss
  • Talk with your doctor prior to surgery about taking iron, vitamins and drugs in order to promote red cell production

Should I donate my own blood a few weeks prior to surgery?
Pre-donated blood ages quickly which limit its ability to efficiently transport oxygen. Except for unusual circumstances, pre-donation of blood is not recommended.

How can I save and conserve my own blood?
Normovolemic Hemodilution: In most cases, several units of your own blood could be drawn immediately before surgery and kept fresh in the operating room. These units will be reinfused into your body at the end of the surgical procedure.

Cell Salvage: The blood loss during surgery or in the recovery period can be collected, washed and transfused back to you.

Does this mean that I will never get a unit of blood?
Blood transfusions are kept as a treatment of last resort. In a life threatening situation, a patient may receive a blood transfusion unless the patient has formally refused the use of blood or blood products.

How can I learn more about blood transfusion and my surgical procedure?
For more information, please call 973.322.2950 to speak with a professional from the Blood Management Institute.

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