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Blood Donation

Man smiling and donating blood before surgery at International Center for Limb Lengthening

Directed Blood Donation (donating blood for another person)

Your surgeon will advise you whether blood should be donated ahead of time for possible administration to you during or after surgery. The decision is based on anticipated blood loss, and so not everyone needs this. Small children are generally not allowed to donate their own blood. Therefore, some parents may wish to donate blood for their children’s use. If a patient (usually a child) is unable to make an advance autologous donation, it is possible for someone else to donate blood on the patient’s behalf. The following steps must be taken:

  • The donor and patient must have compatible blood types; they do not need to be identical. Please refer to the blood compatibility chart below.
  • Locate a local center at which to donate the blood (such as the Red Cross), and provide us with their phone and fax numbers. Make sure that the facility is capable of shipping blood to Baltimore.
  • You cannot schedule a blood donation unless you have a definite surgery date.
  • We will fax a Maryland Special Collections form to the center you choose. Most centers will accept this form or will then fax a copy of their form to us.
  • Once you have provided us with this information, Sinai Hospital’s blood bank requests that you contact them by telephone at: 410-601-5112.
  • The center at which you plan to donate your blood should then contact you for an appointment. If they do not, please call them to make sure they have received the donation order. If they have not, let us know so that we can re-fax the form.
  • According to the Red Cross directives, packed cells expire after 42 days. Whole blood expires after 35 days. Blood can be frozen before expiration, but such storage is very expensive and may not be covered by your insurance plan. Blood needs to be donated 7 to 10 working days before surgery to allow for processing and transportation. Blood should be donated as close to the surgery date as possible. That way, if surgery is delayed, there is still a good chance that the blood can be used.
  • There is a cost involved in shipping blood across state lines. The facility may ask whether the hospital in Baltimore will pay for this. Unfortunately, the answer is no. You may want to find out whether your insurance will cover this cost. (Depending on your proximity to Maryland, you might want to consider driving to Maryland to donate your blood at the Red Cross facility in Baltimore.)
  • Directed donations and autologous donations, which are not used for the designated patient, will be discarded. Sinai Hospital’s blood bank does not allow these donations to be added to the general blood bank supply.
  • Before surgery, the patient will need to have additional blood drawn at Sinai Hospital in order to match it with the donated blood. Please contact the PASS office at 410-601-9729 to arrange this.

Autologous Blood Donation (donating your own blood before surgery)

Your surgeon will advise you whether you need to pre-donate your own blood for possible administration to you during or after surgery. The decision is based on anticipated blood loss, and not everyone is required to make an autologous donation. If you need (or want) to do this, the following steps must be taken:

  • Identify a local center where you can donate blood (such as a Red Cross facility), and provide us with that center’s phone and fax numbers. Make sure that the facility is willing to ship blood to Baltimore.
  • You cannot schedule a blood donation unless you have a definite surgery date.
  • You cannot donate blood within 1 week before surgery, so make arrangements as early as possible. Some centers require a little longer than that to allow for handling time, so be sure to find out from them what the time limitations are.
  • If you are donating more than one unit of blood, you must wait 1 week between donations.
  • We will fax a Maryland Special Collections form to the center you choose. Most centers will accept this form or will then fax a copy of their form to us. Before we can complete the form, we need to know the following information (you may call and leave a voice mail message for our secretaries):
    • your approximate weight
    • any health problems that might make you unsuitable to donate blood
    • medications you are currently receiving
  • The center at which you plan to donate your blood should then contact you for an appointment. If they do not, please call them to make sure they have received the donation order. If they have not, let us know so that we can re-fax the form.
  • According to the Red Cross directives, packed cells expire after 42 days. Whole blood expires after 35 days. Blood can be frozen before expiration, but such storage is very expensive and may not be covered by your insurance plan. Blood needs to be donated 7 to 10 working days before surgery to allow for processing and transportation. For autologous donations, if more than one donation is made, allow at least 1 week between donations. Blood should be donated as close to the surgery date as possible. That way, if surgery is delayed, there is still a good chance that the blood can be used.
  • There is a cost involved in shipping blood across state lines. The facility may ask whether the hospital in Baltimore will pay for this. Unfortunately, the answer is no. You may want to find out whether your insurance will cover this cost. (Depending on your proximity to Maryland, you might want to consider traveling to Maryland to donate your blood at a Red Cross facility in the state.)
  • Note that the blood cannot be donated at our facility.
  • Before surgery, the patient will need to have additional blood drawn at Sinai Hospital to match it with the donated blood. Please contact the PASS office at 410-601-9729 to arrange this.