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 re-infused into your body at the end of the surgical procedure.
  • Cell Salvage: The blood loss during surgery or during 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.