Avoid a transfusion

Sometimes the best transfusion is the one you don't get. Read more about the ways you can reduce your chance of needing a transfusion.

What can I do?
You can discuss possible options to help minimise your need for a transfusion with your doctor.
What will my health care team do?
Your health care team will use a strategy called patient blood management (PBM) to minimise your need for a transfusion. If you are having an operation, PBM can be used before, during or after your surgery. Some of these strategies can also be used if you have cancer, a blood problem or if you are having a baby, for example iron supplementation to treat low iron levels.

Before treatment for cancer, an operation or pregnancy

  • Make sure your haemoglobin levels are normal.
  • Ask your doctor if you have anaemia or low iron levels.This can be identified through a blood test and then treated by iron supplements if needed.
  • Ask your doctor about foods that can help increase iron levels and whether dietary changes alone can address any issues. Your body continually needs to make new red bloods cells to carry oxygen. This requires ongoing iron from our diet.
  • Ask your doctor if it is OK to continue taking your medications including any herbal/vitamin supplements. Some medications and herbal and vitamin supplements can make your blood thinner. This means that you are more likely to bleed during your procedure or delivery and increase your chance of receiving a blood transfusion.
  • Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has had bleeding problems.
  • Ask your doctor if you are at risk of blood loss that may require a transfusion and if so how they can minimise your risk of receiving a transfusion.

During surgery

The surgical team can minimise your need for a transfusion during surgery by:

  • Using techniques and instruments that minimise blood loss.
  • Maintaining your blood pressure.
  • Keeping your body temperature within normal ranges.
  • Using IV fluids to maintain your blood volume.
  • Using a technique known as cell salvage if there is a high risk of you losing a large amount of blood during your surgery. A special machine recovers your lost blood and returns it to you during or directly after surgery.

After treatment for cancer, surgery or having a baby

Your blood levels may be low. Your body will naturally make more blood cells as part of your recovery process. Your doctor will monitor you in the days after surgery or having a baby to see if you need treatment.

What are the benefits of patient blood management?

  • Can minimise your need to receive a blood transfusion.
  • Can reduce your risk of experiencing complications with your medical/surgical procedure.
  • Can decrease your risk of having the wrong blood transfused to you.
  • Can help you have a faster recovery after your medical/surgical procedure.
  • May decrease the amount of time you spend in the hospital.
  • May reduce the risk of transfusion transmitted infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
Resources 

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