What is the benefit of receiving back my own blood rather than having
A: Autologous transfusion is generally considered to
be safer than using bank blood because it reduces the risk of the transmission
of blood-borne disease and infection such as HIV. Research has shown that
having your own blood returned to you following surgery may improve post-operative
response, diminish the risk of side effects and may also help to reduce
the length of your stay in hospital. (2)
Q2: When can I elect to have my own blood back?
A: During or after some procedures you may be able
to have your own blood back. However, you must seek guidance from your
medical adviser on whether it is appropriate in your case.
Q3: How does the process of receiving back my own blood work?
A: You can get your blood back in two ways –
Intra-operative collection (this is when your blood is collected and given
back during your operation) and Post-operative (when your blood is collected
and given back after your operation).
The process of reinfusing the blood works in the same
way as it would with banked blood. A needle (cannula) will be inserted
into your arm to allow the blood to re-enter the body. This is not too
painful (similar to having a blood sample taken).
Q4: What is Post-operative Autologous Blood Transfusion and how
does it work?
A: During Post-operative Autologous Transfusion,
your blood is collected and re-infused after the operation. Once collected
(using a wound drain placed at the site of the procedure) your blood will
then be filtered and reinfused back into your body. This is particularly
relevant in TKR (Total Knee Replacement) as the majority of the blood
loss occurs after the operation.
Intra-operative Autologous Transfusion (IOC) is when
blood is collected from a patient during an operation. Blood is
collected during surgery, ‘washed’ and then collected into
a bag for reinfusion. This process all happens whilst you are asleep and
undergoing the surgery so you would not know anything about the collection.
Usually, the blood is returned to you whilst you are in surgery.
Q5: Why haven’t I heard about this form of blood transfusion
A: Autologous blood transfusion is not a new form of
blood transfusion. It is a tried, trusted and safe method of transfusing
blood. It has been used for over a decade in some UK hospitals, and is
widely available in many countries, including the USA. However, in the
UK, the NHS has traditionally performed blood transfusions using mostly
The Department of Health is now directing hospitals within the NHS to
offer patients autologous blood transfusions where appropriate, as it
recognises the advantages to the patient and the NHS of using this form
of blood transfusion.
Q6: I have heard the phrase Autotransfusion, what is this?
A: Autotransfusion is an alternative word for autologous
Q7: Will having autologous blood transfusion affect my treatment
A: Having a post-operative autologous blood transfusion
should not affect the way in which the procedure is performed. In addition
it may actually speed up your recovery (2).
Having back your own blood reduces the risk of suffering a reaction to
the transfusion, which can happen when having a blood transfusion using
Q8: Who do I speak to, to gain more advice on receiving
a post-operative autologous blood transfusion and to find out if my hospital
provides this transfusion method?
A: If you are going into hospital for a hip or
knee replacement, there are a number of people to discuss post-operative
autologous blood transfusion with, namely:
* Your General Practitioner (GP)
* Hospital Patients' Advocate
* The Pre-admissions Nurse dealing with your operation
* The Consultant in charge of the procedure
* Visit the Hospital Information Centre
It is important to note however that specific procedures for individual
patients can vary widely and the guidance of your medical advisers, who
are in the best position to address any concerns or questions you may
have, should always be paramount in any decision concerning your treatment.
If you are a Jehovah's Witness, you can contact your
local Hospital Liaison Committee for more advice. Your local hospital
will aid you with this process.
Q9: When should I let my hospital know that I want to have
an autologous blood transfusion?
A: You should make it clear at the earliest opportunity
to everyone involved in your procedure that you would like to consider
having an autologous blood transfusion.
Q10: What should I do if I want my own blood back, but my
hospital does not make the autologous blood transfusion option available?
A: You must seek advice from the hospital’s
Patient Advocate who will be based at the hospital you are visiting. Ensure
you do this prior to being admitted for your operation.
Q11: Are there any reasons why I cannot have my own blood
A: In certain circumstances you may not be able
to have an autologous blood transfusion. Reasons can include underlying
medical conditions, health and type of procedure taking place.
When considering an autologous blood transfusion you must seek guidance
from those people within the hospital who will be treating you and providing
Q12: Are there any risks of my blood being infected through an
autologous blood transfusion?
A: Your blood is collected at the bedside following
the operation and is reinfused without the need for additional screening.
Therefore the risks of infection are minimal. In addition the risk of
incorrect blood type being given is eliminated.
Q13: Do I need to prepare anything in order to receive Post-
operative Autologous Blood?
A: There are no special requirements for receiving
post-operative autologous blood. Your consultant will tell you if it is
an option that suits your medical situation.
Q14: Will I need to operate any equipment when having Post-operative
Autologous Blood reinfused?
A: No. The nurse who will be looking after you
will be fully trained to operate the equipment that collects your blood.
Reinfusion of post-operative autologous blood is handled in the same strict
way as donated blood.
Q15: Can Post-operative Autologous Blood be used for every
knee, hip and spinal surgery?
A: In certain circumstances you may be unable to
have post-operative autologous blood. This may be due to medical conditions,
health, types of procedure etc. at the time of the operation.
You must seek guidance from your medical adviser on whether it is applicable
for your operation at the time of consultation.
Q16: Will I need to have bank blood if I have autologous
A: In some cases there will still be a need to
use bank blood for a blood transfusion. You must seek guidance from your
medical adviser on whether it is applicable for your operation at the
time of consultation.
If bank blood does need to be used, then the amount needed will generally
be significantly less than if you did not initially receive post-operative
Q17: How can I obtain a copy of the Patient Leaflet?
A: There are a number of ways to get a copy of
1. Send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org
and a leaflet will be sent out to you free of charge.
2. Speak to your GP practice who may have the leaflet in stock or can
arrange to get one for you.
3. Pick up a leaflet at your hospital.
here to download the Leaflet. (requires
Adobe Acrobat reader)
(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.