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Your Own Blood || Others' Blood || Other Options

In most countries, when considering a Blood transfusion, you have several options. These options may be limited by time, by health factors, and/or by money. In the money department, you will need to check with your insurance company regarding reimbursement policies related to Blood transfusion.

Some surgeries do not require Blood transfusion. Although you have the right to refuse a Blood transfusion, this decision may hold life-threatening consequences.

As you have questions about your options relating to Blood transfusion, ask your physician, a good source in quality information. Another resource is often the internet. Do not ever take your internet research as gospel truth. Although you may see some wildly ridiculous articles, the internet can help you develop an even more informed series of questions to ask of the people in whom you well may place your life.

As a reminder of just why it is important to know about Blood transfusion when you go to the Blood center to either give Blood, or to receive a Blood transfusion, we quote here from an American Red Cross document as to the training required to be a Blood collection 'technician.'

"..... formal classroom instruction for 1 week, followed by one-on-one training for approximately 2 weeks, and then one month of preceptorship [on the job training] with a staff nurse..... " - ARCNOCAL 

Now that sounds like a training program that would produce someone in whom I could really entrust my life! This is why we feel that will be as valuable to you as the research over the years has been to us.

USING YOUR OWN BLOOD - Using your own Blood can minimize or eliminate the need for transfusion with donor Blood. This technique will reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transfusion-related infections and allergic reactions. Mistakes are made.

Autologous Blood Donation - Autologous Blood donation is not the best option for everyone. You should consult your physician as to whether it is safe or appropriate for you to donate. Autologous Blood collection may not be available at the hospital in which your procedure or surgery will be performed. Consult with your doctor, and talk with all of the local Blood Centers about the availability of Blood, the various autologous procedure options, and whether or not autologous donation may be appropriate for you.

Donating Blood Before Surgery - Blood banks can draw your Blood and store it for your use. This process usually is used for planned surgery. Blood can be stored for only a limited period of time, so coordinating the donations with the date of surgery is very important. As an alternative procedure, there is hemodilution, a procedure where the patient's Blood is collected prior to surgery and replaced with a 'plasma expander.' The theory is that any bleeding during surgery will lose fewer RBC's. The previously collected, higher hematocrit Blood, can be reinfused following surgery. 

Donating Blood During Surgery - Your surgeon may be able to recycle your Blood during surgery. Blood that normally is lost and discarded during surgery can be collected, processed and returned to you. This process is performed by devices such as the 'Cell Saver,' or by other Blood conservation technique. This devices are used to collect your own Blood during surgery, cleanse it, and return it with a saline dilutant to your system.

Also available during the surgical procedures, is 'wound drainage.' In this process, Blood is collected from cavities (such as a joint space into which bleeding has occurred) and returned through a filter, which removes big items, but does not remove inflammatory chemical mediators or cytokines. These techniques require a hyper-clean operating area. 

A large volume of your Blood can be recycled this way. Either of these methods can minimize or even eliminate the need to accept the unknown Blood from a stranger.

Donating Blood After Surgery - Blood that has been lost during surgery and collected but not used, can be filtered and returned to you. This process may minimize or eliminate the need to be transfused with someone else's Blood that is often needed after surgery.

USING BLOOD DONATED BY OTHERS - If you choose not to donate your own Blood, or if more Blood is required than you have set aside for your own use, if prepared, you could receive Blood from community or designated donors, or from a pre-planned community Blood 'pool,' called a 'walking around Blood bank.'

Community Blood Donors - Hospitals maintain a supply of community donor Blood to meet transfusion needs.  Volunteer  community Blood donors are 'screened' by a 'thorough' medical history, and then 'tested.' This alternative is not extraordinarily superior to common Blood bank transfusion.

Designated Blood Donors - Although the Blood supply today is 'safe', some patients prefer to receive Blood from people they know, or, 'designated donors.' In some cases, this may be less safe because donors known to the patient in need may not reveal embarrassing information about their personal history, assuming the Blood tests will detect any infection. Common Blood tests do not always detect important, and possibly fatal, Blood borne diseases. Blood donated by a friend whose recent behavior puts them at risk of HIV or other Blood diseases or viruses could pass the screening measures, and transmit a virus or a disease to a friend/patient. Designated donors must meet the same requirements as community donors. Advance notice is always required to accommodate a request for designated donors, as additional processing may be required.  This request of a friend may cause them a lot of trouble in many ways and should not be made without a full discussion of all aspects of the donation and receipt of the Blood, including costs.

THE “WALKING AROUND BLOOD BANK” - A third solution is one often favored by groups of expatriates living near each other. The members of the 'community' set up and maintain contact with a group of people who are prepared to be called upon to donate Blood to meet a particular emergency. The theory is that members of the group know each other and know their lifestyles, and therefore the potential donor, when they are appropriately tested, would be superior to unknown strangers. Some problems associated with such a venture include: 

The number of people involved is so small that there is always a significant chance that sufficient Blood of the required group may not be available;

As the members of the 'walking around Blood bank' live in one locale, they will be liable to carry the diseases endemic to that area;

The group members probably know each other; it is more difficult for someone to defer from donation if their social behavior has put him or her at risk;

The essential pre-testing can be expensive; and,

Privacy means different things to different people!


Of Special Interest on!
Of Special Interest on! Of Special Interest on!
There are some good reasons for a husband to not donate Blood to his wife during her childbearing years. During this time, a women who plans to become pregnant, receiving Blood from her husband may pose a small risk to the infants born of these pregnancies. If, after the Blood transfusion the woman develops an antibody to an antigen on the father's red Blood cells, and the subsequently born fetus inherits the father's red cell antigen, the antibody from the mother may enter the Bloodstream of the fetus causing destruction of fetal red Blood cells. This may cause serious anemia in the fetus and excessive jaundice in the infant after birth. This is a known major cause of brain damage. Special Blood transfusions, using selected red Blood cells that do not have the particular in-compatible and offending antigen, are available when this condition is pre-diagnosed. Of course, we suggest autologous Blood donation for the mother. However, for those mothers who are unable to make an autologous donation, the decision to select her husband as a donor should always take this risk under consideration, and specific consultation with your pediatrician on this subject is essential.
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If you have additional questions about your options relating to Blood transfusion, please look further through this web site, and then refer your questions to a physician, local Blood center, or hospital Blood bank. Doctors who work in Blood banking facilities are experts and are helpful in answering informed questions.

View Directed Blood Donation Consent Form HERE.

View Directed Blood Donation Order Form HERE.

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   last updated 11/10/2004