Madgwick, Hospital Transfusion Specialist, from North Middlesex University
Hospital NHS Trust, explains in more detail what happens to patients during
Autologous Blood Transfusion.
patient, Paul Grieves, also tells of his experience:
guide to the medical facts
Appropriately used donor blood and blood products save
lives and provide clinical benefit to many patients. However, blood is
in short supply ...more
view of a patient's experience
What happens prior to the operation?
Is there anything I could do to prepare?
How long does the procedure take? ...more
-Case Study: Paul Grieves
Paul Grieves from Harlow, Essex had his own blood back following on from
a bi-lateral knee replacement operation at the town’s Rivers Hospital
to me and my blood during Post-Operative salvage?
What happens prior to the
operation? Is there anything I could do to prepare?
Prior to surgery, a range of blood samples may be taken from you to check
your overall health. We do recommend that you try to maintain a well-balanced
diet as this maximises the amount of red blood cells that the body makes
and can reduce the need for using blood during an operation.
When and how does the blood get collected? Will
I feel anything?
If blood is going to be collected post-operatively, the procedure occurs
at the end of the operation whilst you are still in the operating theatre
under anaesthetic, so nothing will be felt. One or two drains are inserted
into the middle of the wound to allow the blood to be collected for filtration.
A needle (cannula) will be inserted into to your arm if the blood is to
be re-infused but this is not too painful (similar to having a blood sample
taken) and this may also be performed while you are asleep in theatre.
Will anything happen to
me once I am conscious?
For the purpose of the blood transfusion it is not usually necessary to
insert any additional needles or drains once you are conscious. The equipment
will remain intact until the surgical team are happy with the surgical
site and say that the wound drains should be removed (usually about 24
to 48 hours).
How long does the procedure
take and how much fluid gets collected?
Post-operative salvage tends to take 6-12 hours in the majority of cases.
Knee replacement operations usually use a tourniquet during the procedure
which means that most blood is lost after the operation is complete and
the tourniquet has been removed, although this varies from patient to
patient. Blood is collected into the ‘salvage’ device, and
then filtered into a bag for re-infusion. This all occurs whilst you are
attached to the device. Once the procedure is completed, the device is
removed and discarded.
Is there anything I need
to know about post-operative care?
After the operation and whilst you are still in hospital, the physiotherapist
will visit you to discuss mobility. It is important that there is no risk
of blood clots developing and this will be discussed with each patient
We do suggest you continue to follow a balanced diet
post-operatively in particular to ensure that you have a good intake of
iron, B12 and folate to help the production of red cells.