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Blood Bank Safety Questioned By New Study

Posted by Adam Pick on March 30th, 2008

Prior to heart valve surgery, patients are faced with many, many, many questions. One of those questions is specific to potential blood loss during the operation. That question is, “Would you like to donate your own blood or use blood from the hospital blood bank?”

Blood Bag Safety For Patients

I’ve written about this topic of blood banks and heart surgery before.

However, I just read an interesting article at the Mercury News which reveals that heart surgery patients treated with donated blood older than two weeks were more likely to die or suffer problems than those treated with fresher blood.

Which makes these findings — about blood bank safety — even more problematic is that blood supply is chronically low.

“If the shelf life was reduced from 42 to 14 days, we just wouldn’t have enough blood around,” said Dr. Ross Herron, medical director of the American Red Cross Bay Area, which sends blood to hospitals throughout the East Bay and South Bay. “We need to have that shelf life to move blood around.”

I did not donate my own blood prior to my aortic valve replacement operation. Luckily, Dr. Starnes did not need a transfusion during my surgery. However, given these findings I would probably change that approach if I was to need heart surgery again. To learn more about aortic valve replacement, click here.

I hope this helps you better understand blood bank safety.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Ron King says on September 17th, 2008 at 2:32 pm


Thanks for all the helpful information in this blog.

Regarding banking one’s own blood. I asked my surgeon about this prior to my surgery and this is his reply: When a person donates blood, their body gets anemic until the blood is replaced by the body. He said that he wouldn’t let me do that. Maybe some other patients could withstand that strain but my surgeon was very cautious and told me “no”.

I am just 15 days post-surgery ( aortic valve replacement and asending aortic graft to replace an aneurism) and getting stronger every day. I would not have believed that I could feel this good just prior to or immediately after surgery. I am feeling blessed and was well cared for at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.

All best,



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