Preoperative Autologous Blood Donation (PAD)

A transfusion of your own blood avoids the risks of infectious viruses (like HIV and hepatitis). PAD blood transfusions also avoid the risks of allergic and immune reactions (caused by having blood from another person in your body).

PAD is of most benefit to patients having an operation where there could be a large blood loss, increasing the likelihood of needing a blood transfusion.

What are the concerns with PAD?

The other major risks of blood transfusion: hemolytic reaction due to receiving the incorrect blood and infection caused by bacteria, are the same with PAD transfusions as for volunteer donor blood transfusions.

Transfusion of your own blood does not make a transfusion risk free.

PAD blood will only be transfused if your hemoglobin becomes seriously low.

Also, when you give your own blood, you are “losing” some blood; your hemoglobin will be lowered. Blood can be stored for only 42 days. Many patients will not build their hemoglobin back to the level it was at before they donated their own blood. So, donating your own blood might increase the chances of needing a transfusion.

PAD is like insurance, it has a “cost”, it's there if you need it but, you only use it if you have to.

How much blood will be taken?

The patient blood management team will decide how many units of blood you need to donate, depending on the type of operation, your general health and your hemoglobin level. The blood donation should be completed by about 2 weeks before the date of your operation.

What happens if more blood than I have donated is needed during or after my operation?

The blood you have donated will always be used first. If your doctor feels you need more blood transfused to benefit your life and health, volunteer donor blood can be given to you. Before your operation tell your doctor your wishes, if you should need more blood than you have donated. This is the same as choosing to accept or refuse a blood transfusion.

What happens to my donated blood if I don’t need it?

If you do not need a transfusion during or after your operation, your blood is destroyed. It is not used for other patients. It is stored at the hospital until it can no longer be safely transfused (a period of 42 days from when you donated it).

How do I arrange to have my blood taken?

To donate your own blood for an operation, a referral to Canadian Blood Services Autologous Blood Donor Clinic is made through the patient blood management team. You can donate your blood at the Canadian Blood Services Autologous Blood Donor Clinic closest to you. The Canadian Blood Services Autologous Blood Donor Clinic will contact you by telephone to arrange an appointment to donate your blood.

What tests are done on my blood?

With your first donation, all the regular Canadian Blood Services tests (HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Human T-Lymphotropic Virus, West Nile Virus, and Syphilis) will be done just as for any volunteer blood donation. If any tests are abnormal, you and your doctor will be notified.

What else do I need to do?

You need to take extra iron to help your body rebuild the blood you donated. The patient blood management team will give you information about iron.

What happens at the appointment to donate my blood?

Before donating your blood: Eat, drink and take your medications as you normally would. It is helpful to drink extra fluids (water or juice) before donating blood.

Bring to your blood donation appointment: your health card, as well as a list of your allergies and medications . They will be needed at Canadian Blood Services.

At Canadian Blood Services:

  • You will be registered as if you were a regular blood donor.
  • You will be asked to fill out a Health Assessment Questionnaire.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form for autologous donation.
  • The clinic nurse will check your hemoglobin and your blood pressure.
  • The actual donating of your blood takes about 15 minutes.
  • Except for the pinch from the needle, most people feel no discomfort while giving their blood.
  • A bandage will be put around your arm.
  • You are asked to rest for a few minutes and offered a snack.
  • The entire donation process takes about 1 hour.

What should I do with the green blood tags?

After each donation of your blood you will be given a green blood tag. You must bring the tags to the hospital with you when you are admitted for your operation.

What are the possible side effects?

Some people might feel lightheaded, faint or dizzy after donating their blood. If this happens, it usually passes after sitting down for a few minutes and putting your head between your knees. If the symptoms continue, seek medical attention.

After donating blood you might have a slight bruise or discomfort at the needle site. It is recommended that you do not perform any strenuous activity for 6 to 8 hours after donating your blood.

Where can I find more information about donating blood?

You can visit the website: