Should I donate my own blood before surgery?

April 16, 2001

Patients undergoing open-heart surgery frequently require one or more blood transfusions. In an effort to reduce their chance of receiving blood from volunteer donors, patients facing open-heart surgery may choose to donate their own blood before surgery.

However, these patients are at increased risk of receiving any transfusion, which in turn, increases their risk of acute hemolytic reaction due to human error and of infection due to bacterial contamination of blood during collection or storage.

To help patients decide whether to donate their blood before surgery, Dr. Curry Grant and colleagues designed a decision aid comprising a booklet and audiotape and assessed its effectiveness. The authors tested 59 patients' knowledge of blood donation and transfusion, their perception of risks involved and their decisional conflict before and after use of the aid. The authors report that mean knowledge scores increased, from 67% before to 85% after use of the aid, and risk perception improved, from 0%-14% correct responses before to 18%-60% correct responses after.

The study found that while the decision aid had little effect on the choices of those who had strong opinions before using the material, it did help those who were initially uncertain. "The decision aid may potentially benefit patients by improving their knowledge and expectations, and by helping those who are uncertain to make choices," conclude the authors.

Evaluation of a decision aid for patients considering autologous blood donation before open-heart surgery.
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Contact: Dr. Curry Grant, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto; tel: 416-480-4055 x3889

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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