Julie’s Blood Bank Concerns, Remorse And Advice

I just received an email from Julie that contains several, ongoing concerns specific to blood banks and heart valve surgery. If you are a patient or caregiver preparing for heart surgery, I encourage you to continue reading this post.

Blood Bank Plastic Bag

Julie writes to to me, “Adam – Jon, my husband, had mitral valve replacement surgery on October 31st at the University of Chicago. Leading up to his surgery, Jon did not donate his own blood to the hospital blood bank. Guess what? Jon DID need blood. But, it was AFTER the surgery. His hemoglobin went way down. I was so upset that the doctors failed to give Jon the option of donating his own blood. Adam, please advise everybody to do this. I feel I made a big mistake as his wife….not thinking about doing that!”

As you can read, Julie’s note contains some critical points for patients and caregivers as they prepare for cardiac surgery. That said, I have written a few blogs which address the issue of blood banks. Please click the links below to learn more:

I hope this helps you better understand the issues specific to blood management (blood banks, patient donations, transfusions) before, during and after heart valve replacement and heart valve repair operations.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • jerry

    I wasn’t given the option either, and it never occurred to me to ask.

    I wish I had, when I did require blood, the precautions they went through were so extraordinary to make sure I was who needed the blood, and the blood was good and the bag intended for me that it reminded me of how serious a mistake could be.

    (The precautions included amongst other things, 2-3 people repeating aloud my name/dob and hospital bar code and matching that along with the bar code of the blood with the doctor’s order and all sorts of other stuff. It reminded me of scenes from movies where the President’s order to nuke the enemy are decrypted and authenticated.)

  • Paul Ash

    I asked Dr. Starnes about banking blood before my surgery, but was advised that due to the severity of my defect it was not advisable. Luckily I didn’t need a transfusion, but make sure to ask your docs about it. Even if you aren’t able to bank, you can have friends or family do so for you.

  • Carol Lang

    Being an ICU nurse, I did my research into donating my own blood before my mechanical aortic valve replacement. The surgeon told me, “I don’t like my patients doing that because it takes too much out of them. I prefer to give them autologous blood.” (That means that the patient actually gets their own chest tube bloody drainage returned to them through a filter system. Translation: You get your own blood)
    Well guess what?…….as it turned out I required 2 Units of hospital blood bank transfusions.
    Although heavily sedated, I tried to listen VERY carefully to those ICU nurses when they went through all those numbers out loud before hanging the blood!
    So much for planning. Who knew?

  • Laura S.

    We discussed this option with our surgeon. He said we could do that, but the blood can only be kept a certain amount of time. I forget now how long, but he told us if the need arose, fresher was better. My husband was fortunate that he didn’t require any blood. Yes he received his chest tube blood back (filtered of course).

  • Bev N.

    I had aortic valve replacement almost three months ago, and when I inquired about giving and storing my own blood, I was told that the Surgeon and Cardiologist don’t like the patient to give blood prior to surgery. So I didn’t have a choice either. I was given a transfusion, but I was so out of it that I don’t remember anything about it.

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