About 10 per cent of blood supplies in North America and Europe are autologous, which means they are to be used only by the donor. In these times of AIDS, with fears of infected blood, this statistic is not surprising.
What is surprising, though, is that the British are not following suit. The regional services that offer a "self blood bank" report a very low takeup, even though it has been available for the past 10 years.
The few successes have been those "run by enthusiasts", the Consensus Conference on Autologous Blood Tranfusion has been told.
The conference hopes that a major research programme, which was able to highlight the benefits of autologous blood transfusions, could be carried out (The Lancet, October 14, 1995).
Children seem as able to recover from serious operation without transfusion as adults, new research has discovered. Surgeons from the University of Amsterdam carried out major surgery on six Jehovah's Witness children, aged from four to 12 years, and made up for blood loss with a technique called hemodilution.
By using the technique, and by supplementing the children's blood with tranfusions of supplies the children had donated earlier, the surgeons found that children's hemoglobin levels were only 19 per cent lower than usual just one day after the operation (The Lancet, October 28, 1995).