Sources of Blood for Transfusion

Allogeneic Community—Volunteer Blood

Allogeneic blood is blood that is provided from voluntary blood donors. The following steps are used to assure that the risks to the recipient are as low as possible:
  • Use of voluntary, unpaid donors
  • Medical and social history of donor (excluding donors with risk factors that may make the donated blood unsafe)
  • Physical exam of donor (exam of arms for “needle tracks” etc.)
  • Blood Testing:◦ABO, Rh, red cell antibodies
    • HIV-1/HIV-2
    • Hepatitis C virus
    • Hepatitis B core
    • Hepatitis B surface antigen
    • HTLV-I/HTLV-II antibodies
    • Syphilis antibodies
    • West Nile virus (seasonal)
  • When donations are associated with serious transfusion reactions, the donors are excluded from future donations.

Autologous Blood

Autologous blood is provided by patients for their own use if they are likely to be transfused in the near term. Patients who are likely to need blood (e.g., for hip revision surgery that routinely uses an average of one unit of blood) can donate up to one unit per week at the blood supplier facility. Patients must be healthy (no serious cardiac or TIA/CVA risks), free of signs of infection and not anemic (HCT must be 33%).

Because the infectious risks of allogeneic voluntary donor blood are so small and the risk of donating autologous blood is real, the patient’s physician must balance risks and benefits to ensure blood is needed for surgery prior to requesting autologous donation. Nationwide, more than 50% of autologously donated blood is wasted.

Directed Donation

Families or friends may donate for the patient. Studies have shown that blood donated by family members or donors selected by the patient are not safer than blood from volunteer anonymous community blood donors.