Surprisingly few Americans are storing their own blood for possible transfusions during surgery as a way to avoid catching AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases from donated blood, researchers in San Francisco said Wednesday.
In a study involving nearly 5,000 patients who underwent elective surgery at 18 hospitals throughout the country, researchers at UC San Francisco found that only 5% of those eligible had stored their own blood in advance.
"Pre-donation was under-used at all of the 18 university hospitals," said Dr. Pearl Toy, who headed the study, published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
Although donated blood now is tested for AIDS, there is still a small chance that the AIDS virus could go undetected. In addition, other diseases, especially the liver disease hepatitis, can be acquired from blood transfusions.
"The safest blood you can use is your own blood," said Douglas M. Surgenor of the Center for Blood Research in Boston. "You completely eliminate the chances of getting a tranfusion-related disease."