|Early Winter 2010|
|Ask the Experts: What can I do to avoid a blood transfusion? |
Ask the Experts: What can I do to avoid a blood transfusion?
Q: I’m having elective, minimally
invasive surgery in a
few weeks. Although there’s a
slim chance I’ll need a blood
transfusion, I would like to
avoid having one altogether,
if possible. Is there anything
I can do–nutritionally or
physically–ahead of time?
Blood Management Services
Medical Director Gil
Lancaster, MD, responds:
A: You already know that surgeons use blood transfusions
for various medical situations, such as when a patient loses
a significant amount of blood during a surgical procedure,
in childbirth or due to a serious injury.
It’s great that you’re thinking about this well in advance of
your procedure. There are actually several things you can
do in the weeks and days prior to surgery to lessen the
probability of needing a transfusion.
- Eat foods rich in iron. You can build up your iron
levels and red blood cell count by eating foods high
in iron. Good sources of iron include red meat, fish,
poultry, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables and dried
beans, such as kidney beans, lentils and lima beans.
- Eat foods rich in B vitamins, folates, vitamin C
and riboflavin. These can be found in meat, nuts,
citrus fruit and milk, or in vitamin supplements.
- Rest. Get plenty of sleep in the days leading up
- Know your options. Ask your doctor or surgeon about
the options that may be available to you. Some patients
elect to have their blood collected, cleaned and recycled
back into the body during surgery. In addition, there
are medications that can stimulate the production of
blood cells, helping to minimize or eliminate the need
for a transfusion.
- Make sure your doctor and/or surgeon knows how
you feel. Many physicians treat patients who choose
not to have blood transfusions. Whatever you decide
must be made known clearly and formally in advance
by speaking with your doctor or surgeon.
Prior to surgery, speak with Blood Management
Services experts at Bridgeport Hospital who
can explain the numerous options available.
Bridgeport Hospital is the only hospital in Fairfield
County, and one of only two hospitals in the state,
with formal Blood Management Services that
cover surgical and medical care. For information,
please call 203-384-3848 or 1-866-NO-BLOOD.