Giving Blood to Yourself

Giving blood to yourself for an operation is the best way to avoid diseases.

If you're having elective surgery, talk to your doctor about donating blood -- to yourself.

"Blood banks take great care in testing donors' blood, but if patients can give their own blood, it is definitely the best way to avoid diseases, such as hepatitis B and HIV," says Joseph C. McCarthy, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.

Before you can donate, ask your doctor and/or hospital for guidelines. The rules for donating blood to yourself are not the same as donating to a blood bank. Generally, patients who want to use their own blood for surgery can't have an infectious disease and must meet the following requirements:

  • Weight -- at least 100 pounds.
  • Blood pressure -- should be between 90/50 and 180/100.
  • Temperature -- no higher than 99.5 degrees.
  • Pulse -- must be between 50 and 100 beats per minute.

Obviously, the amount of blood you'll need will vary depending on the procedure. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says it takes about two units of blood replacement to perform primary hip surgery, but four or more units for revision hip surgery.