A Answers (5)
That depends on how much time you have to prepare for surgery and the likelihood that your operation will require a blood transfusion. Donating your own blood for surgery is called autologous blood donation. In the U.S., it is coordinated by the American Red Cross, as is other blood donation. You may consider donating blood for yourself if the following conditions apply:
1) You are having surgery in which there is a significant chance that you will require blood. This would include heart surgery, spine surgery, some operations for cancer, and major orthopedic surgery. Because of safety issues, your blood cannot be used for someone else if you don’t use it.
2) You should have an adequate time period for your body to regenerate the amount of blood donated before surgery. You may donate for yourself 3-5 days before surgery, but your surgeon may desire a longer period of time between blood donation and surgery (it may take up to 6 weeks for your body to regenerate all the donated cells). You may donate more than once, actually every 4-7 days as long as your blood count doesn’t drop significantly. Again, talk to your surgeon. Some people will take iron to give their blood production a boost.
3) You must be in fairly good health to donate autologous blood. Some patients with heart conditions or acute illnesses will not be allowed to donate. If you are anemic, you will not be allowed to donate.
If you are interested in autologous blood donation in the U.S., you should talk to your doctor. Then contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment and obtain the donation form for your doctor to sign.
Yes, a patient can bank their own blood for surgery. However, the process does take some time (several weeks to several months) to store enough blood for a major operation. Having said that, blood centers are now generally very aggressive at screening blood and transfusions are very safe.