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Why Autologous Blood Transfusion is the Safest

Why Autologous Blood Transfusion is the Safest

A blood transfusion is a transfer of blood or its products to a person bloodstream. It is a usually a maneuver to replace the blood cells and products after a loss through severe bleeding or surgery.

Blood transfusions save a life, and it is the reason why volunteer donor blood banks exist to ensure fast accessibility when there is a need. Proper screening of blood helps to reduce chances of adverse events to the lowest.

The likelihood of contracting infections from a blood transfusion is low but can occur. The safest transfusion is that which uses your blood (Autologous) the transfusion uses your blood thus there is no risk of contraction illness from another person. It is an option that requires planning, especially before an optional surgery.

In most instances, a patient cannot donate their blood because of the acute nature of illness which requires more blood. The person needing treatment is mostly in dire need of blood hence cannot donate. Although it is within a patient’s right to refuse transfusion, it could cause life-threatening consequences.

A parent has a legal right to decide on behalf of a child but must understand that in life-threatening situations, he must act in the best interest of the young one regardless of the belief in autologous transfusion. In non-urgent medical procedures, it will be safe for a patient to have phlebotomist draw their blood, store it in the blood bank and ask a doctor to use it when the patient goes for surgery. It is the safest since the donor and recipient are identical hence there cannot be new infections or transfusion reactions.

Types of Autologous Blood Transfusion

The procedure for different types of autologous transfusions is the same. The only difference is the time for drawing out the blood.

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Pre-operative donation transfusion

The patient donated blood before surgery for safe storage in a blood bank until there is a need to use it during surgery or after that. It is an option only for the elective (non-emergency) surgery. The advantage of pre-operative donation is that it minimizes or eliminates the need of using somebody blood during or post-surgery. The disadvantage is that it will require advanced planning that might delay a surgery. Some of the medical conditions might prevent a pre-operative donation of the blood products.

Intra-operative autologous transfusion

This type of transfusion takes place through recycling of the patient’s blood during surgery. The surgery team filters the blood that spills out after incision and put it into the body during surgery. It can be done during elective or emergency surgery. The advantage of intra-operation transfusion is that it minimizes the need to use blood by other donors. Eliminating a large amount of blood during recycling is possible. The limitation of the Intra-operative autologous transfusion is that doctors cannot use if the patient has an infection or cancer because it will cause new infection.

Post-operative autologous transfusion

This transfusion is almost similar to Intra-operative autologous only that recycling of the blood as after and not during the surgery. Surgery team collects the blood lost during incision for filtering and returning to the body. Post-operative autologous applies to elective and emergency surgeries. However, it is not applicable when cancer or other infections are present.


The patient donates blood during surgery before the start of the procedure. The surgeons replace the units with IV fluids, and after surgery, they filter the blood and return it to the body. It is only for elective surgeries. The process dilutes the blood for the patient to lose less concentrated blood during surgery. The disadvantage is that surgeons can only remove a limited amount of blood. Another limitation is that it is subject to certain medical conditions.

Patients who plan to donate their blood and receive it after surgery should know that the number of units that doctors can collect is limited to their volume and health status. Health service providers will determine if a patient has enough blood to tolerate changes in blood volume and if there are existing infections.