Autologous versus allogeneic transfusion: patients' perceptions and experiences.
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BACKGROUND: Preoperative autologous donation is one way to decrease a patient's exposure to allogeneic blood transfusion. This study was designed to determine patients' perceptions about the autologous blood donation process and their experiences with transfusion. METHODS: To assess patient perception, a questionnaire was administered a few days before surgery to patients undergoing elective cardiac and orthopedic surgery in a Canadian teaching hospital. All patients attending the preoperative autologous donation clinic during a 10-month period were eligible. A convenience sample of patients undergoing the same types of surgery who had not predonated blood were selected from preadmission clinics. Patient charts were reviewed retrospectively to assess actual transfusion practice in all cases. RESULTS: A total of 80 patients underwent cardiac surgery (40 autologous donors, 40 nondonors) and 73 underwent orthopedic surgery (38 autologous donors, 35 nondonors). Of the autologous donors, 75 (96%) attended all scheduled donation appointments, 73 (93%) said that they were "very likely" or "likely" to predonate again, and 75 (96%) said that they would recommend autologous donation to others. There was little difference in preoperative symptoms between the autologous donors and the nondonors, although the former were more likely than the latter to report that their overall health had remained the same during the month before surgery (30 [75%] v. 21 [52%] for the cardiac surgery patients and 30 [79%] v. 18 [51%] for the orthopedic surgery patients). When the autologous donors were asked what they felt their chances would have been of receiving at least one allogeneic blood transfusion had they not predonated, the median response was 80%. When they were asked what their chances were after predonating their own blood, the median response was 0%. The autologous donors were significantly less likely to receive allogeneic blood transfusions (6 [15%] for cardiac surgery and 3 [8%] for orthopedic surgery) than were the nondonors (14 [35%] for cardiac surgery and 16 [46%] for orthopaedic surgery). They were, however, more likely to receive any transfusion (autologous or allogeneic) than were the nondonors (25 [63%] v. 14 [35%] for cardiac surgery and 31 [81%] v. 16 [46%] for orthopedic surgery). INTERPRETATION: Patients who underwent preoperative autologous blood donation were positive about the experience and did not report more symptoms than patients who did not donate blood preoperatively. Autologous donors overestimated their chances of receiving allogeneic blood transfusions had they not predonated and underestimated their chances after they had predonated. They were less likely to receive allogeneic transfusions, but more likely to receive any type of transfusion, than were patients who did not predonate.
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