Why Autologous Blood Transfusion is the Safest

Blood transfusion is a common and lifesaving procedure that involves transferring blood or blood components from a donor to a recipient. However, allogenic blood transfusion, where the donor and recipient are different people, carries some risks and challenges. These include the possibility of transmitting infections, allergic reactions, immunological complications, and the scarcity and cost of blood supply.

To overcome these problems, autologous blood transfusion, where the donor and recipient are the same person, has emerged as a safe and effective alternative. Autologous blood transfusion is the collection of blood from a single patient and transfusion back to the same patient when required. This article will explain the types, benefits, and limitations of autologous blood transfusion, and why it is the safest option for patients who need blood transfusion.

Types of Autologous Blood Transfusion

There are four types of autologous blood transfusion procedures:

  • Preoperative autologous donation (PAD): blood is collected weeks before surgery. It is then stored in a blood bank and transfused back to the patient when needed.
  • Acute normovolemic hemodilution (ANH): blood is removed right after anesthesia is given for surgery. Then, the same amount of intravenous fluids is transfused back into the body to maintain normal blood volumes and blood pressure.
  • Intraoperative and postoperative cell salvage: blood is collected from suction, surgical drains, or both and transfused back to the patient after filtration or washing.
  • Perioperative blood conservation: blood loss is minimized by using drugs, devices, or techniques that reduce bleeding or enhance clotting.

Benefits of Autologous Blood Transfusion

Autologous blood transfusion has several advantages over allogenic blood transfusion. These include:

  • Eliminating the risk of transmitting infections such as hepatitis, HIV, and vCJD, which can be present in donor blood.
  • Reducing the risk of allergic reactions, hemolytic reactions, and immunological complications such as graft-versus-host disease and transfusion-related acute lung injury.
  • Preserving the blood group and antigen compatibility of the patient, can prevent alloimmunization and improve the efficacy of the transfusion.
  • Conserving the blood supply and reducing the cost of blood transfusion, especially in areas where blood donation is scarce or expensive.
  • This enhances the patient’s autonomy and satisfaction, as they can choose to donate their blood and avoid receiving blood from strangers.

Limitations of Autologous Blood Transfusion

Autologous blood transfusion is not without challenges and limitations. Some of these are:


Autologous blood transfusion is a safe and effective alternative to allogenic blood transfusion, as it eliminates the risk of infection transmission, reduces the risk of immunological and allergic reactions, preserves blood compatibility and supply, and enhances the patient’s satisfaction. However, autologous blood transfusion also has some challenges and limitations, such as the need for planning and coordination, the possibility of wastage and technical errors, contraindications, and the lack of evidence. Therefore, autologous blood transfusion should be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the patient’s preferences, medical conditions, and surgical procedures. Autologous blood transfusion is not a panacea, but it is a valuable option for patients who need blood transfusion.


1Autologous blood transfusion | BJA Education | Oxford Academic 2What Is Autologous Blood Donation for Surgery? – Verywell Health 3Glossary: Autologous – Blood Bank Guy Glossary 4: [Autologous versus allogeneic blood transfusion and survival after radical prostatectomy – PubMed] : [Autologous blood transfusion in cardiac surgery does not reduce postoperative infection risk: a propensity score analysis – PubMed]