Autologous Blood Donation
Making an Informed Choice
What is Autologous Blood Donation?
Autologous blood means you donate your
own blood for later use. If your doctor says
you may need a blood transfusion, this may
be one option.
What are the Benefits?
Your own blood is the safest blood you can
get. When you receive your own blood:
ξ There is no risk of an allergic reaction to
your own blood.
ξ Rare blood types can be very hard to
ξ There is no risk of getting diseases
carried by blood like hepatitis and AIDS.
What Influences Whether or Not You
Can Donate Your Own Blood?
Your Physical Health
Your doctor will talk with you about
whether you qualify to give your own blood.
You may not have to meet all of the usual
requirements as other blood donors. Yet,
some health conditions can disqualify you
from giving your own blood. These include:
anemia, some infections, severe heart
disease, stroke and some seizure disorders.
Your doctor may suggest that you donate
your own blood ahead of time if it is likely
that you will need blood during or after
surgery. Yet, giving your own blood is not
for all patients having surgery. Your doctor
or nurse will talk with you about your
operation. If you do not use the blood you
donate, it is discarded. It cannot be used for
Is There An Added Expense to Donate
My Own Blood?
There may be extra charges when you
donate your own blood for later use. You
will be billed for these charges even if your
blood is not used. These charges may not be
covered by your insurance. To find out,
check with your insurance company.
How Many Units of Blood May Be Given?
Your doctor will tell you how many units are
often needed for your type of surgery. Four
or more units can be given if your doctor
feels it is needed. The blood units are
collected one at a time week by week. You
can start giving blood about six weeks
before surgery. Your blood can be safely
stored for up to 42 days.
How Close to Surgery Can I Donate?
It is best to give blood at least one week
before your surgery.
Where Do I Go to Donate Blood?
If you live in the Madison area, most likely
you will donate at the American Red Cross
Blood Center in Madison. If you live
outside of Madison, call the American Red
Cross at 1-800-733-2767 and ask them for
the nearest collection facility where you can
donate your blood.
How Long Does It Take to Donate Blood?
Giving blood takes about an hour for each
unit. This includes asking you questions
about your health, taking your blood
pressure and collecting the blood. You will
be asked to relax for at least 15 minutes
before leaving. Often, you will be given a
If I’m Interested, What Do I Do Next?
First, talk with your doctor about this option.
Also, check your insurance since giving your
own blood may have added costs that may or
may not be covered. If this is an option for
you, the doctor will fill out forms to begin
the process. A written order from your
doctor is needed. Your doctor, or one of the
clinic staff, must also discuss this plan with
the blood center where you plan to donate.
You will then need to call the site where you
would like to give blood and schedule your
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5057.