Should I Donate Blood for Myself Before my Surgery
Charles Castillo is a general surgeon at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix.
Question: Should I donate blood for myself in advance of a scheduled surgical procedure?
Answer: In today’s health care environment, we are fortunate to enjoy numerous advancements that have made donating blood before routine surgery generally unnecessary. In most cases, we do not anticipate major blood loss as part of a surgical procedure. And if a patient’s blood count is low before a scheduled procedure, we can administer iron or other treatments prior to surgery to increase the blood volume.
One of the primary reasons that donating blood prior to surgery is not usually recommended is because the patient will suffer a drop in blood count as a result of the donation. Because blood is donated just prior to the surgery, the patient’s body does not have time to rebuild blood supply before the procedure. The body needs to be functioning at optimal levels to handle the effects of surgery, which includes maintaining adequate blood volume, and intentionally lowering blood volume may not be the best option. Also, if the donated blood is not used for the surgery, in most cases, it will be discarded.
However, there are some surgeries where significant blood loss may occur, such as major orthopedic procedures or cardiovascular surgery, and banking blood prior to surgery can be helpful. It is important to consult with your surgeon to determine your specific blood needs prior to your procedure, and then make a decision that suits your individual situation.
Submitted February 2010