Autologous Blood Donation - Making an Informed Choice
What is Autologous Blood Donation?
Autologous blood means you donate your own blood for later use. If your doctor says you may need a blood transfusion, this may be one option.
What are the Benefits?
Your own blood is the safest blood you can get. When you receive your own blood:
- There is no risk of an allergic reaction to your own blood.
- Rare blood types can be very hard to match.
- There is no risk of getting diseases carried by blood like hepatitis and AIDS.
What Influences Whether or Not You Can Donate Your Own Blood?
Your Physical Health
Your doctor will talk with you about whether you qualify to give your own blood. You may not have to meet all of the usual requirements as other blood donors. Yet, some health conditions can disqualify you from giving your own blood. These include: anemia, some infections, severe heart disease, stroke and some seizure disorders.
Your doctor may suggest that you donate your own blood ahead of time if it is likely that you will need blood during or after surgery. Yet, giving your own blood is not for all patients having surgery. Your doctor or nurse will talk with you about your operation. If you do not use the blood you donate, it is thrown away. It cannot be used for another person.
Is There An Added Expense to Donate My Own Blood?
There may be extra charges when you donate your own blood for later use. You will be billed for these charges even if your blood is not used. These charges may not be covered by your insurance. To find out, check with your insurance company.
How Many Units of Blood May Be Given?
Your doctor will tell you how many units are often needed for your type of surgery. Four or more units can be given if your doctor feels it is needed. The blood units are collected one at a time week by week. You can start giving blood about six weeks before surgery. Your blood can be safely stored for up to 42 days.
How Close to Surgery Can I Donate?
It is best to give blood at least one week before your surgery.
Where Do I Go to Donate Blood?
If you live in the Madison area, most likely you will donate at the American Red Cross Blood Center in Madison. If you live outside of Madison, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-Red-Cross and ask them for the nearest collection facility where you can donate your blood.
How Long Does It Take to Donate Blood?
Giving blood takes about an hour for each unit. This includes asking you questions about your health, taking your blood pressure and collecting the blood. You will be asked to relax for at least 15 minutes before leaving. Often, you will be given a snack.
If I’m Interested, What Do I Do Next?
First, talk with your doctor about this option. Also, check your insurance since giving your own blood may have added costs that may or may not be covered. If this is an option for you, the doctor will fill out forms to begin the process. A written order from your doctor is needed. Your doctor, or one of the clinic staff, must also discuss this plan with the blood center where you plan to donate. You will then need to call the site where you would like to give blood and schedule your first visit.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/09/2013
Copyright © 01/09/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5057
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