Open Heart Surgery Handbook
An Important Note on Blood Transfusions
The potential need for blood transfusions during open heart surgery has been an understandable source of apprehension and anxiety to all patients and their families. The concern with transmittable disease has been heightened by reports of patients contracting the AIDS virus after receiving banked blood during or after open heart surgery.
Requirements of blood during or after surgery will depend on factors such as age, the presence or absence of preoperative anemia or clotting disorders, and the magnitude of the blood loss during and after surgery. Bleeding is slightly more pronounced in patients undergoing surgery for the second and third time, because of the presence of scar tissue and adhesions.
In some situations, the patient can pre-donate his own blood. This procedure is called autologous pre-deposit. Not all patients are candidates for pre-donation, primarily because of their cardiac conditions.
Some of the patients will be discharged from the hospital with anemia, or a “low blood count.” However, over the several weeks following surgery, these patients will see their blood count progressively return to normal.
The Red Cross has been the sole supplier of blood to Mercy St. Vincent open heart service. The screening of blood donors conducted by the Red Cross is thorough, and the blood released for usage when needed is as safe as it can possibly be at the present time.
Some patients ask if donations of blood from family members and friends can be accepted. The answer is “yes.” However the Red Cross does not encourage this practice, since all donors go through the same scrutiny and testing that volunteer donors undergo. If you wish to have someone donate blood for potential use during surgery, you will need a prescription from you or the donor must contact the Red Cross directly for instructions.