AIDS has created considerable concern among the public regarding being transfused with potentially infectious blood. However, autologous blood donations are still not maximally provided nor utilized. Significant heart disease disqualifies all allogeneic and most autologous blood donors (American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) Standards 1994). Disqualification is based on the widespread belief that donating blood could possibly be detrimental to their health. However, this belief has not been sufficiently documented. Sixty-eight donors (ages 14-84 years), all with histories of significant cardiac diseases, donated 111 units of whole blood (1-3 units). Twenty-eight patients donated 1 unit, 37 donated 2 units, and three patients donated 3 units. Fifty-nine patients had ischemic heart disease, and nine had valvular heart disease (five with mitral stenosis and four with mitral valve prolapse). No patient received erythropoietin, and only one received equal volume replacement with normal saline during donation. All these patients eagerly wished to donate in spite of being informed of the possible complications. No patient wishing to donate has been refused, and none has experienced any adverse consequences from donating. Forty-four patients underwent total hip/ knee replacements. Only 56 units (50%) were transfused to 37 patients (54%). Although our experience is limited, it appears that many patients with histories of well established cardiac diseases can easily tolerate donating blood without compromising their health.
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