It was the fear of contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion that drove Bettyann Sponheimer, the co-owner of an industrial plastics company in Largo, Fla., to store a supply of her own blood for an upcoming bladder operation.
"AIDS is something I won't have to worry about now," said Sponheimer, who is "very scared and over-apprehensive" about the possibility of receiving blood that had been drawn and stored by her local community blood bank.
Despite her doctor's assurance that a transfusion will not be required, Sponheimer "dug in my heels" and demanded that several units of her own blood be stored in Tampa, Fla.-based Merus Corp.'s high-tech freezer. Merus will open its second facility, in San Diego, during the next few months.
Consumers aren't afraid to ask their doctors and blood banks about the availability of autologous blood donations.
Dennis Goldfinger, a blood pathologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, recently dealt with a patient who was more concerned about the quality of blood used in transfusions than upcoming neurosurgery to remove a brain tumor.
Consumers view frozen blood as "an insurance policy," said Goldfinger. "And when you buy insurance, whether for your home or your life, you hope that you never have to use it. But that doesn't mean you don't go ahead and buy insurance."