Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 26, 2014
Donating blood to charities like the Red Cross is a wonderful philanthropic deed that can save lives. But there is a lesser-known reason that people donate blood – namely, to their future selves. You may not have heard of it unless you’ve undergone a surgical procedure at some point in your life, but sometimes prior to a surgery a person will pre-emptively donate their own blood to use for their own surgery in the event of blood loss. In this article we will take a look at the pros and cons of this tactic, how it works, and when it’s beneficial.
How Does it Work?
With a preoperative blood transfusion, the patient donates their own blood 3-5 weeks before their scheduled surgery. This generally allows enough time for the body to replenish the donated blood before the procedure.
Minimally invasive spine surgeries generally have very minimal blood loss. However, blood loss is always a possibility in any surgery. If you lose too much blood during a procedure, a transfusion may be necessary to get enough blood back into your body.
The number one fear from patients who need a transfusion is the possibility of contracting a disease from the blood. Using your own blood for the transfusion diminishes the chances of contracting a disease (unless of course you already have one). There is also a decreased risk of immunosuppression when using your own blood for a transfusion.
That said, there are also a few cons to consider. First and foremost, there is always a chance that your body will not be able to regenerate enough blood between the donation and the surgery. In this case, you would have to have the blood replaced before your surgery (negating the whole process). Some patients with certain medical conditions (heart disease, low-blood count) will not be good candidates for a preoperative donation.
If you are concerned about a blood transfusion following your surgery, ask your surgeon if a preoperative blood donation would be a good idea for your case.