about ABT

patient information

“The medical evidence clearly shows that there are many advantages to getting your own blood back in circumstances where it is possible.
The process is very straightforward and we’re keen to help as many people as possible learn about the facts so that they can benefit from this procedure.”

Simon Williams, Director of Policy at the Patients' Association

What are the BENEFITS to patients of having their own blood back?
Getting your own blood back (Autologous Blood Transfusion) is considered to be safer than using banked blood because the risk of transmission of diseases and infections is significantly reduced.

It is possible that you may experience reactions to donor blood as some of the blood constituents may be identified as harmful by your biological defence mechanisms. The body’s immune system may act to protect you against these foreign constituents. The process by which this occurs is similar to the process that starts after identification of the presence of an unwanted bacteria or virus. The likelihood of such reactions occuring is dramatically reduced when using your own blood.

Research has also shown that having your own blood returned to you may improve post-operative response and diminish the risk of infection (2). It may also help to reduce the length of your stay in hospital (2).

Importantly, as well as gaining the personal benefits of having your own blood as opposed to banked blood, this technique, used in the appropriate surgery, may eradicate the need to use any banked blood at all. Many users have found that they do not even need to cross match. Reducing these types of activities saves resources which is increasingly more important to the NHS. It also means that the UK’s precious blood stocks are reserved for types of treatment or patients for whom autologous blood is not appropriate. So, receiving a unit of your own blood, where possible, could be as important as donating a unit of blood for the blood banks!

In some cases, donor blood transfusion is refused on the grounds of religious beliefs, for example, with Jehovah’s Witness patients. Although the use of ABT (Autologous Blood Transfusion) is very much reliant on the individual’s belief and choice under these circumstances, the techniques are widely accepted by Jehovah’s Witness groups as a potential solution. This subject can be studied in further detail by logging on to www.watchtower.org (the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses).

Further benefits to society
Autologous Blood Transfusion techniques have been used for over a decade in some UK hospitals and are widely available in many countries, including the USA. The Department of Health is now directing hospitals within the NHS to implement processes aimed at more appropriate use of blood due to the growing cost of banked blood and the implications of blood shortages that could arise as a result of the massive strain on the currently available stocks. The use of ABT is forming a significant and important part of this process.

(2) Newman JH, Bowlers M, Murphy J: The Clinical Advantages of Autologous Transfusion – A randomised controlled study after knee replacement. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (Br) 1997 Vol. 79B pages 630-632.