One of the earliest attempts at blood transfusion was chronicled in 1492 when Pope Innocent VIII, while in a comatose state was infused with blood from three young boys. The blood from the boys was infused into the Pope through the mouth and it was noted that the fate of the Pope and that of the boys was grim. According to the chronicles, there were no survivors from this first attempt at transfusing blood from one individual (or in this case, individuals) to another.
Thank goodness, modern medicine has progressed further than in the days of 1492. It was in the early part of the 19th century that progress in blood donation and transfusion really began to advance.
Now days there are two different types of donations for the use in blood transfusions. These blood transfusion/donation types are known as Allogeneic or Homologous transfusions and Autologous transfusion.
* Allogeneic is a transfusion of blood that has been taken and stored from a donor and transfused into that of a different recipient.
* Autologous is the donation and transfusion of blood which comes from and is given to the same person.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the latter.
Just what is an autologous blood donation?
An autologous blood donation is when you donate your blood for it to be stored in case you should need a blood transfusion. In other words, it is donating your own blood for your own use. It is in contrast to an allogeneic blood donation in which a volunteer donates blood to be deposited into a blood bank.
When would I make an autologous donation?
Autologous donations are typically made prior to your having surgery, particularly if it is a surgery that often requires a blood transfusion such as a cardiac surgery. The shelf life of donated blood, which is 42 days, should be taken into consideration when scheduling an autologous donation.
What are the benefits of an autologous donation?
There are many benefits of autologous blood donation. One benefit is the guaranteed acceptance of the blood by your body. You know for certain that your body will accept your own blood since, obviously, the blood type is a perfect match. Another benefit is that blood will be available for you. With recent blood bank shortages, it is nice to know that you have stored away blood for yourself should you need it. A huge benefit is that with autologous blood donation there is no risk of contracting a transmitted disease. Even though the blood donated through allogeneic donations is rigidly screened, there is a peace of mind in knowing where the blood that is given to you comes from. Of course, these are only a few of the many benefits associated with autologous blood donation.
How do I prepare for an autologous blood donation?
You should prepare for an autologous blood donation the same way that you would prepare for an allogeneic blood donation. For example, on the day you plan to make the donation, eat a substantial breakfast and drink plenty of fluids. Also, wear a short-sleeved shirt. After donation, do not plan any strenuous activity, particularly any heavy lifting, for 24 hours.
Are there any risks involved in an autologous donation?
There are only a few risks involved in autologous blood donation, other than the ones such as potential dizziness and fatigue during the actual donation. One risk is that the blood could be mislabeled or mishandled in the storage and transport process. This risk can be reduced by your own diligence in observing the technician who processes the donated blood. Another risk is that you could be given an unnecessary blood transfusion simply because the supply is available. Finally, while it is not a risk, there is the monetary cost of donation and storage of the blood. Typically there is no insurance coverage for autologous blood donations. These are the main risks involved in an autologous blood donation. You doctor can advise you if there are any risks specific to your situation.
What happens to the donated blood if I don't need it during my surgery?
If you do not use the blood that you have donated for yourself, it may be deposited into the general blood bank. Sometimes, though, the unused blood donated in an autologous blood donation is disposed of because the restrictions on autologous blood donations are typically less strict than those for allogeneic blood donations.
When you are preparing to have surgery talk with your doctor about Autologous blood donation and the many benefits of donating your own blood.
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