If you know you’re having an operation, you and your doctor can talk about ways to plan to improve your health and reduce the likelihood you may need a transfusion. 

Check your haemoglobin and iron stores

One way of trying to avoid a transfusion is to have your haemoglobin and iron stores checked by a blood test.

Low haemoglobin or anaemia is often due to low iron stores. Low haemoglobin before an operation is known as preoperative anaemia and can result in worse health outcomes for you and can also increase your risk of needing a transfusion.  

If you have low haemoglobin and low iron, you can be treated with iron supplementation and your doctor will do some investigations to find out the cause. 

Other ways to avoid a transfusion

There are other ways your healthcare team may be able to reduce your chances of needing a blood transfusion, like:     


  • Keeping you warm during the operation.
  • The type of anaesthetic and fluids used.
  • Giving you medications that assist with blood clotting to reduce blood loss.
  • Improved surgical techniques such as laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) to reduce blood loss.
  • Using devices that reduce blood loss (e.g. staplers, blood vessel sealing equipment).
  • Using blood pumping equipment during cardiac surgery that requires less volume to operate, or
  • Using cell salvage equipment that collects, cleans and returns your own blood.

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