With limited blood supplies there are options if you need to have surgery, Elizabeth Tracey reports


The pandemic has caused many shortages, among them blood. That’s because many blood drives have been canceled and traditional donors, such as college students, sidelined for the same reason. Steven Frank, a blood transfusion expert at Johns Hopkins, says there are several strategies to cope if you’re scheduled for surgery.

Frank:  If we simply give you some iron tablets before your surgery, which costs about $4.00, we can avoid $400 worth of transfusions. Treating preoperative anemia with iron is a good example of what we do. We can also use what’s called a cell saver device during surgery. It’s a machine that collects the blood you lose, and then we give you back your own blood during surgery. I haven’t met a patient yet that wouldn’t rather have their own blood back during surgery, compared to someone else’s blood.  :30

Frank notes that donating your own blood prior to surgery really isn’t an option as blood can only be stored for a few weeks and it takes at least that much time to replace what you’ve lost to donation. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.