Donating Blood & Platelets: Donating Blood for Your Own Use

1. Can a patient donate his or her own blood?

When blood transfusions are anticipated (such as during surgery), you may be able to donate your own blood (called an autologous donation) in the weeks preceding your surgery, if your physician approves. Generally, a patient's own blood is the safest blood to transfuse because disease transmission and allergic reactions are eliminated.

2. Will giving blood make me weak before my surgery?

No. Your physician will determine whether donating your own blood for later use is right for you. The Donor Room staff will also check to make sure you are healthy enough to donate and that any medical conditions you may have will not prevent your body from producing new blood cells, which usually begins 24 hours after donating.

3. How soon before my surgery should I give blood?

Once your physician approves of your donating blood and notifies the Donor Room, you may donate weekly prior to surgery. Donations must be completed five working days before the date of your surgery. This allows the necessary time to process and test your blood and gives your body enough time to replace the blood volume (plasma) that was lost when you donated blood.

4. What if I am not able to give enough blood for my needs?

Any additional blood you may need will be supplied by volunteer donors or, if you prefer, by your family and friends. All blood, regardless of the source, is tested to make sure it is as safe as possible. The blood you receive will also be tested to ensure that it matches your blood type.

5. How do I make an appointment for an autologous donation?

Your physician's office can schedule an appointment by calling our Blood Donor Room using the special phone number for autologous donors: 212-639-6919. Autologous donations are scheduled Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM.

6. How can I be sure the blood I get during my surgery is the blood I donated?

When you donate blood, it is labeled with identification tags and bar codes, and it is tracked as it is processed, tested, and delivered to the operating room.

7. What happens if something is found in my blood when it is tested?

You and your physician will be notified of any irregularity in your blood and your physician may be asked to authorize transfusion of the blood to you.

8. What if my surgery is postponed?

Your surgeon should contact the Blood Bank if your surgery is postponed. If your physician requests, we can store your blood in the hospital's Blood Bank for up to 35 days.

9. If I don't use blood I donated for my surgery, what happens to it?

If you do not need the blood you donated, it will be discarded.

10. Are there fees to use my own blood?

Yes. You will be charged a fee to cover the costs of collecting, testing, and processing the blood you receive, regardless of whether you or another donor supplies the blood.

11. Can a child donate blood for his or her own use?

Under certain circumstances and if your child's physician approves, he or she may donate blood for his or her own use. If you are interested in an autologous donation for your child, please discuss this option with your child's physician.